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Title: Philip Gilbert Hamerton - An Autobiography, 1834-1858, and a Memoir by His Wife, 1858-1894
Author: Hamerton, Eugénie, Hamerton, Philip Gilbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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"Intellectual living is not so much an accomplishment as a state or
condition of the mind in which it seeks earnestly for the highest and
purest truth.... If we often blunder and fail for want of perfect wisdom
and clear light, have we not the inward assurance that our aspiration
has not been all in vain, that it has brought us a little nearer to the
Supreme Intellect whose effulgence draws us while it dazzles?"--_The
Intellectual Life_.


About twelve years ago my husband told me that he had begun to write an
Autobiography intended for publication, but not during his lifetime. He
worked upon it at intervals, as his literary engagements permitted, but
I found after his sudden death that he had only been able to carry it as
far as his twenty-fourth year. Such a fragment seemed too brief for
separate publication, and I earnestly desired to supplement it by a
Memoir, and thus to give to those who knew and loved his books a more
complete understanding of his character and career. But though I longed
for this satisfaction and solace, the task seemed beyond my power,
especially as it involved the difficulty of writing in a foreign
language. Considering, however, that the Autobiography was carried, as
it happened, up to the date of our marriage, and that I could therefore
relate all the subsequent life from intimate knowledge, as no one else
could, I was encouraged by many of Mr. Hamerton's admirers to make the
attempt, and with the great and untiring help of his best friend, Mr.
Seeley, I have been enabled to complete the Memoir--such as it is.

I offer my sincere thanks to Mr. Sidney Colvin and to his co-executor
for having allowed the insertion of Mr. R. L. Stevenson's letters; to
Mr. Barrett Browning for those of his father; to Sir George and Lady
Reid, Mr. Watts, Mr. Peter Graham, and Mr. Burlingame for their own.

I also beg Mr. A. H. Palmer to accept the expression of my gratitude for
his kind permission to use as a frontispiece to this book the fine
photograph taken by him.


_September_, 1896.




My reasons for writing an Autobiography.--That a man knows the history
of his own life better than a biographer can know it.--Frankness and
reserve.--The contemplation of death.



My birthplace.--My father and mother.--Circumstances of their
marriage.--Their short married life.--Birth of their child.--Death of
my mother.--Her character and habits.--My father as a widower.--Dulness
of his life.--Its degradation.



My childhood is passed at Barnley with my aunts.--My grandfather and
grandmother.--Estrangement between Gilbert Hamerton and his brother of
Hellifield Peel.--Death of Gilbert Hamerton.--His taste for the French
language.--His travels in Portugal, and the conduct of a steward during
his absence.--His three sons.--Aristocratic tendencies of his
daughters.--Beginning of my education.--Visits to my father.



A tour in Wales in 1842.--Extracts from my Journal of this tour.--My
inborn love for beautiful materials.--Stay at Rhyl.--Anglesea and
Caernarvon.--Reasons for specially remembering this tour.



A painful chapter to write.--My father calls me home.--What kind of a
house it was.--Paternal education and discipline.--My life at that time
one of dulness varied by dread.



My extreme loneliness.--Thoughts of flight.--My father's last illness
and death.--Circumstances of my last interview with him.--His funeral.



Dislike to Shaw in consequence of the dreadful life I lead there with my
father.--My guardian.--Her plan for my education.--Doncaster
School.--Mr. Cape and his usher.--The usher's intolerance of
Dissenters.--My feeling for architecture and music.--The
drawing-master.--My guardian insists on my learning French.--Our French
master, Sig. Testa.--A painful incident.--I begin to learn the
violin.--Dancing.--My aversion to cricket.--Early readings.--Love of
Scott.--My first library.--Classical studies.



Early attempts in English verse.--Advantages of life at Doncaster.--A
school incident.--Fagging.--Story of a dog.--Robbery.--My school-fellow
Henry Alexander.--His remarkable influence.--Other school-fellows.
--Story of a boat.--A swimming adventure.--Our walks and battles.



Early interest in theology.--Reports of sermons.--Quiet influence of Mr.
Cape.--Failure of Mr. Cape's health.--His death.



My education becomes less satisfactory.--My guardian's state of
health.--I pursue my studies at Burnley.--Dr. Butler.--He encourages me
to write English.--Extract from a prize poem.--Public discussions in
Burnley School.--A debate on Queen Elizabeth.



My elder uncle.--We go to live at Hollins.--Description of the place.
--My strong attachment to it.--My first experiment in art-criticism.
--The stream at Hollins.--My first catamaran.--Similarity of my life at
Hollins to my life in France thirty-six years later.



Interest in the Middle Ages.--Indifference to the Greeks and Romans.
--Love for Sir Walter Scott's writings.--Interest in heraldry and
illuminations.--Passion for hawking.--Old books in the school library at
Burnley.--Mr. Edward Alexander of Halifax.--Attempts in literary
composition.--Contributions to the "Historic Times."--"Rome in
1849."--"Observations on Heraldry."



Political and religious opinions of my relations.--The Rev. James
Bardsley.--Protestant controversy with Rome.--German neology.--The
inspiration of the Scriptures.--Inquiry into foundation for the
doctrine.--I cease to be a Protestant.--An alternative presents
itself.--A provisional condition of prolonged inquiry.--Our medical
adviser.--His remarkable character.--His opinions.



First visit to London in 1851.--My first impression of the place.--
Nostalgia of the country.--Westminster.--The Royal Academy.--Resolution
never to go to London again.--Reason why this resolution was afterwards



The lore of reading a hindrance to classical studies.--Dr. Butler
becomes anxious about my success at Oxford.--An insuperable
obstacle.--My indifference to degrees.--Irksome hypocrisy.--I am nearly
sent to a tutor at Brighton.--I go to a tutor in Yorkshire.--His
disagreeable disposition.--Incident about riding.--Disastrous effect of
my tutor's intellectual influence upon me.--My private reading.--My
tutor's ignorance of modern authors.--His ignorance of the fine
arts.--His religious intolerance.--I declare my inability to sign the
Thirty-nine Articles.



Choice of a profession.--Love of literature and art.--Decision to make
trial of both.--An equestrian tour.--Windermere.--Derwentwater.--I take
lessons from Mr. J. P. Pettitt.--Ulleswater.--My horse turf.--Greenock,
a discovery.--My unsettled cousin.--Glasgow.--Loch
Lomond.--Inverary.--Loch Awe.--Inishail.--Inmstrynich.--Oban.--A
sailing excursion.--Mull and Ulva.--Solitary reading.



A journal.--Self-training.--Attempts in periodical literature.--The
time given to versification well spent.--Practical studies in art.--
Beginning of Mr. Ruskin's influence.--Difficulty in finding a master in
landscape-painting.--Establishment of the militia.--I accept a
commission.--Our first training.--Our colonel and our adjutant.--The
Grand Llama.--Paying off the men.



A project for studying in Paris.--Reading.--A healthy life.--
Quinsy.--My most intimate friend.



London again.--Accurate habits in employment of time.--Studies with Mr.
Pettitt.--Some account of my new master.--His method of technical
teaching.--Simplicity of his philosophy of art.--Incidents of his
life.--Rapid progress under Pettitt's direction.



Acquaintance with R. W. Mackay.--His learning and accomplishments.--His
principal pursuit.--His qualities as a writer.--Value of the artistic
element in literature.--C. R. Leslie, R. A.--Robinson, the
line-engraver.--The Constable family.--Mistaken admiration for minute
detail.--Projected journey to Egypt.--Mr. Ruskin.--Bonomi.--Samuel



A Visit to Rogers.--His Home.--Geniality in poets.--Talfourd.--Sir
Walter Scott.--Leslie's picture, "The Rape of the Lock."--George
Leslie.--Robert Leslie.--His nautical instincts.--Watkiss
Lloyd.--Landseer.--Harding.--Richard Doyle.



Miss Marian Evans.--John Chapman, the publisher.--My friend William
Shaw.--His brother Richard.--Mead, the tragedian.--Mrs. Rowan and her
daughter.--A vexatious incident.--I suffer from nostalgia for the



Some of my relations emigrate to New Zealand.--Difficulties of a poor
gentleman.--My uncle's reasons for emigration.--His departure.--Family
separations.--Our love for Hollins.



Resignation of commission in the militia.--Work from nature.--Spenser,
the poet.--Hurstwood.--Loch Awe revisited.--A customer.--I determine to
learn French well.--A tour in Wales.--Swimming.--Coolness on account of
my religious beliefs.--My guardian.--Evil effects of religions
bigotry.--Refuge in work.--My drawing-master.--Our excursion in Craven.



Publication of "The Isles of Loch Awe and other Poems."--Their
sale.--Advice to poetic aspirants.--Mistake in illustrating my book of
verse.--Its subsequent history.--Want of art in the book.--Too much
reality.--Abandonment of verse. A critic in "Fraser."--Visit to Paris
in 1855.--Captain Turnbull.--Ball at the Hôtel de Ville.--Louis Napoleon
and Victor Emmanuel.



Thackeray's family in Paris.--Madame Mohl.--Her husband's encouraging
theory about learning languages.--Mr. Scholey.--His friend, William
Wyld.--An Indian in Europe.--An Italian adventuress.--Important meeting
with an American.--Its consequences.--I go to a French hotel.--People
at the _table d'hote_.--M. Victor Ouvrard.--His claim on the
Emperor.--M. Gindriez.--His family.--His eldest daughter.



Specialities in painting.--Wyld's practice.--Projected voyage on the
Loire.--Birth of the Prince Imperial.--Scepticism about his inheritance
of the crown.--The Imperial family.--I return home.--Value of the French
language to me.



My first encampment in Lancashire.--Value of encamping as a part of
educational discipline.--Happy days in camp.--The natural and the
artificial in landscape.--Sir James Kay Shuttleworth's Exhibition
project.--I decline to take an active part in it.--His energetic and
laborious disposition.--Charlotte Brontë.--General Scarlett.


I visit the homes of my forefathers at Hamerton, Wigglesworth, and
Hellifield Peel.--Attainder and execution of Sir Stephen Hamerton.
--Return of Hellifield Peel to the family.--Sir Richard.--The Hamertons
distinguished only for marrying heiresses.--Another visit to the Peel,
when I see my father's cousin.--Nearness of Hellifield Peel and Hollins.



Expedition to the Highlands in 1857.--Kindness of the Marquis of
Breadalbane and others.--Camp life, its strong and peculiar
attraction.--My servant.--Young Helliwell.--Scant supplies in the
camp.--Nature of the camp.--Necessity for wooden floors in a bad
climate.--Double-hulled boats.--Practice of landscape-
painting.--Changes of effect.--Influences that governed my way of study
in those days.--Attractive character of the Scottish Highlands.--Their
scenery not well adapted for beginners.--My intense love of it.



Small immediate results of the expedition to the Highlands.--Unsuitable
system of work.--Loss of time.--I rent the house and island of
Innistrynich.--My dread of marriage and the reasons for
it.--Notwithstanding this I make an offer and am refused.--Two young
ladies of my acquaintance.--Idea of a foreign marriage.--Its
inconveniences.--Decision to ask for the hand of Mdlle. Gindriez.--I go
to Paris and am accepted.--Elective affinities.



Reception at home after engagement.--Preparations at Innistrynich.--I
arrive alone in Paris.--My marriage.--The religious ceremony.--An
uncomfortable wedding.--The sea from Dieppe.--London.--The Academy
Exhibition of 1858.--Impressions of a Frenchwoman.--The Turner
collection.--The town.--Loch Awe.--The element wanting to happiness.




My first sight of Loch Awe.--Arrival at Innistrynich.--Our domestic
life.--Difficulties about provisions.--A kitchen-garden.



Money matters.--Difficulties about servants.--Expensiveness of our mode
of life.



Painting from nature.--Project of an exhibition.--Photography.--Plan of
"A Painter's Camp."--Topographic art.--Charm of our life in the



English and French manners.--My husband's relatives.--First journey to
France after our marriage.--Friends in London.--Miss Susan Hamerton.



Visits from friends and relatives.--A Frenchman in the Highlands.--
Project of buying the island of Innistrynich.



Financial complications.--Summer visitors.--Boats and boating.--Visit
to Paris.--W. Wyld.--Project of a farm in France.--Partnership with M.



Effects of the Highland climate.--Farewell to Loch Awe.--Journey to the
south of France.--Death of Miss Mary Hamerton.--Settlement at
Sens.--Death of M. Gindriez.--Publication of "A Painter's Camp."
--Removal to Pré-Charmoy.



Canoeing on the Unknown River.--Visit of relatives.--Tour in
Switzerland.--Experiments in etching.--The "Saturday Review."--Journeys
to London.--Plan of "Etching and Etchers."--New friends in
London.--Etching exhibited at the Royal Academy.--Serious illness in
London.--George Eliot.--Professor Seeley.



Studies of animals.--A strange visitor.--Illness at Amiens.--Resignation
of post on the "Saturday Review."--Nervous seizure in railway
train.--Mrs. Craik.--Publication of "Etching and Etchers."
--Tennyson.--Growing reputation in America.



"Wenderholme."--The Mont Beuvray.--Botanical studies.--La
Tuilerie.--Commencement of "The Portfolio."--The Franco-Prussian War.



Landscape-painting.--Letters of Mr. Peter Graham, R.A.--Incidents of the
war-time.--"The Intellectual Life."--"The Etcher's Handbook."



Popularity of "The Intellectual Life."--Love of animals.--English
visitors.--Technical notes.--Sir S. Seymour Haden.--Attempts to resume
railway travelling.



"Round my House."--Journey to England after seven years' absence.--Visit
to Mr. Samuel Palmer.--Articles for the "Encyclopedia Britannica."
--Death of my sister.--Mr. Appleton.



"Marmorne."--Paris International Exhibition.--"Modern Frenchmen."
--Candidature for the Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Arts.--The Bishop of
Autun.--The "Life of Turner."



Third edition of "Etching and Etchers."--Kew.--The "Graphic
Arts."--"Human Intercourse."



"Paris."--Miss Susan Hamerton's death.--Burnley revisited.--Hellifield
Peel.--"Landscape" planned.--Voyage to Marseilles.



"Landscape."--The Autobiography begun.--"Imagination in Landscape
Painting."--"The Saône."--"Portfolio Papers."



"Man in Art" begun.--Family events.--Mr. G. F. Watts.--Mr.
Bodley.--"French and English."



Decision to live near Paris.--Practice in painting and etching.--Search
for a house.--Clématis.



Removal to Paris.--Interest in the Bois de Boulogne.--M. Vierge.--"Man
in Art."--Contributions to "Scribner's Magazine."--New form of "The
Portfolio."--Honorary degree.--Last Journey to London.--Society of
Illustrators.--Illness and death.






My reasons for writing an autobiography.--That a man knows the history
of his own life better than a biographer can know it.--Frankness and
reserve.--The contemplation of death.

My principal reasons for writing an autobiography are because I am the
only person in the world who knows enough about my history to give a
truthful account of it, and because I dread the possibility of falling
into the hands of some writer who might attempt a biography with
inadequate materials. I have already been selected as a subject by two
or three biographers with very friendly intentions, but their
friendliness did not always ensure accuracy. When the materials are not
supplied in abundance, a writer will eke them out with conjectural
expressions which he only intends as an amplification, yet which may
contain germs of error to be in their turn amplified by some other
writer, and made more extensively erroneous.

It has frequently been said that an autobiography must of necessity be
an untrue representation of its subject, as no man can judge himself
correctly. If it is intended to imply that somebody else, having a much
slighter acquaintance with the man whose life is to be narrated, would
produce a more truthful book, one may be permitted to doubt the validity
of the inference. Thousands of facts are known to a man himself with
reference to his career, and a multitude of determinant motives, which
are not known even to his most intimate friends, still less to the
stranger who so often undertakes the biography. The reader of an
autobiography has this additional advantage, that the writer must be
unconsciously revealing himself all along, merely by his way of telling

With regard to the great question of frankness and reserve, I hold that
the reader has a fair claim to hear the truth, as a biography is not
avowedly a romance, but at the same time that it is right to maintain a
certain reserve. My rule shall be to say nothing that can hurt the
living, and the memory of the dead shall be dealt with as tenderly as
may be compatible with a truthful account of the influences that have
impelled me in one direction or another.

I have all the more kindly feelings towards the dead, that when these
pages appear I shall be one of themselves, and therefore unable to
defend my own memory as they are unable to defend theirs.

The notion of being a dead man is not entirely displeasing to me. If the
dead are defenceless, they have this compensating advantage, that nobody
can inflict upon them any sensible injury; and in beginning a book which
is not to see the light until I am lying comfortably in my grave, with
six feet of earth above me to deaden the noises of the upper world, I
feel quite a new kind of security, and write with a more complete
freedom from anxiety about the quality of the work than has been usual
at the beginning of other manuscripts.

Nevertheless, the clear and steady contemplation of death (I have been
looking the grim king in the face for the last hour) may produce a
paralyzing effect upon a man by making his life's work seem very small
to him. For, whatever we believe about a future state, it is evident
that the catastrophe of death must throw each of us instantaneously into
the past, from the point of view of the living, and they will see what
we have done in a very foreshortened aspect, so that except in a few
very rare cases it must look small to them, and ever smaller as time
rolls on, and they will probably not think much of it, or remember us
long on account of it. And in thinking of ourselves as dead we
instinctively adopt the survivor's point of view. Besides which, it is
reasonable to suppose that whatever fate may be in store for us, a
greater or less degree of posthumous reputation in two or three nations
on this planet can have little effect on our future satisfaction; for if
we go to heaven, the beatitude of the life there will be so incomparably
superior to the pleasures of earthly fame that we shall never think of
such vanity again; and if we go to the place of eternal tortures they
will leave us no time to console ourselves with pleasant memories of any
kind; and if death is simply the ending of all sensation, all thought,
memory, and consciousness, it will matter nothing to a handful of dust
what estimate of the name it once bore may happen to be current amongst
the living--

  "Les grands Dieux savent seuls si l'âme est immortelle,
  Mais le juste travaille à leur oeuvre éternelle."



My birthplace.--My father and mother.--Circumstances of their
marriage.--Their short married life.--Birth of their child.--Death of
my mother.--Her character and habits.--My father as a widower.--Dulness
of his life.--Its degradation.

I was born at Laneside near Shaw, which is now a manufacturing town of
some importance about two miles from Oldham in Lancashire, and about
four miles from Rochdale in the same county.

Laneside is a small estate with some houses and a little cotton-mill
upon it, which belonged to my maternal grandfather. The house is of
stone, with a roof of stone slate such as is usual in those parts, and
it faces the road, from which it is separated by a little enclosure,
that may be called a garden if you will. When I was a child, there were
two or three poplar trees in that enclosure before the house; but trees
do not prosper there, and now there is probably not one on the whole
estate. One end of the house (which is rather long for its height and
depth) abuts against the hill, and close behind it is the cotton-mill
which my grandfather worked, with no great profit to himself or
advantage to his descendants. I have mentioned a road that passes the
house; it is steep, narrow, and inconvenient. It leads up to an elevated
tract of the most dreary country that can be imagined, but there are one
or two fields on the Laneside estate, above the stone-quarry, from which
there is a good view in the direction of Rochdale.

I never knew my grandfather Cocker, but have heard that he was a lively
and vigorous man, who enjoyed life very heartily in his way. He married
a Miss Crompton, who had a little property and was descended from the De
Cromptons of Crompton Hall. I am not aware that she had any family
pride, but, like most people in that neighborhood, she had a great
appreciation of the value of money, and when she was left alone with her
daughter, in consequence of Philip Cocker's premature death, she was
more inclined to favor wealthy than impecunious suitors.
My father had come to Shaw as a young attorney some time before he asked
for Anne Cocker in marriage. He had very little to recommend him except
a fine person, great physical strength, and fifteen quarterings. He had
a reputation for rather dissolute habits, was a good horseman, an
excellent shot, looked very well in a ball-room, and these, I believe,
were all his advantages, save an unhappy faculty for shining in such
masculine company as he could find in a Lancashire village in the days
of George IV. Money he had none, except what he earned in his
profession, at one time rather a good income.

Miss Anne Cocker was a young lady with a will of her own, associated, I
have been told (the two characteristics are by no means incompatible),
with a very sweet and amiable disposition. At a time when my grandmother
still vigorously opposed the match with my father, there happened to be
a public charity ball in Shaw, and Miss Cocker showed her intentions in
a very decided manner, by declining to dance with several gentlemen
until the young lawyer presented himself, when she rose immediately with
a very gracious smile, which was observed by all near enough to witness
it. This was rather unkind perhaps to the other aspirants, and is, in
fact, scarcely defensible, but it was Miss Cocker's way of declaring her
intentions publicly. When my father made his offer, he was refused by my
grandmother's orders, but received encouragement from her daughter (a
tone of voice, or a look, yet more a tear, would be enough for a lover's
hope), and counted upon the effects of perseverance. At length, when he
and Miss Cocker thought they had waited long enough, they determined to
marry without Mrs. Cocker's consent, and the determination was notified
to my grandmother in the following very decided terms:--

"DR. Madam,--You are no doubt well aware of the warm attachment which
has long existed betwixt your dear daughter and myself. Upwards of
twelve months ago our affections were immovably fixed upon each other,
and I now consider it my duty to inform you that we are fully engaged,
and have finally concluded to be married within a fortnight of the
present time.

"I sincerely trust that all your hostile feelings towards me are
entirely worn out, and that you will receive me as the affectionate
husband of your beloved daughter, and I with great confidence hope we
shall be a happy family and live together with peace and harmony.

"At my request your daughter will have all her property settled upon
herself, so that I can have no control over it--thus leaving it
impossible that I should waste it. And I trust that by an active
attention to my profession I may be enabled not inconsiderably to
augment it.

"Be assured, Dear Madam, that your daughter and myself feel no little
solicitude for your comfort and happiness, and that we shall at all
times be most happy to promote them.

"It is our mutual and most anxious wish that you should not attempt to
throw any obstacle in the way of our marriage, as the only tendency it
could have under present circumstances would be to lessen the happiness
and comfort of our union.

"We trust therefore that your regard for your daughter's happiness will
induce you at once to give your full assent to the fulfilment of our
engagement, as you would thereby divest our marriage of all that could
possibly lessen the happiness we anticipate from it.

"I know that your principal objection to me has been on account of my
unsteadiness, and I deeply regret ever having given you cause to raise
such an objection; but I trust my conduct for some time back having been
of a very different character, will convince you that I have seen my
error. The gayety into which I have fallen may partly be ascribed to the
peculiarity of my situation; having no relations near me, no family
ties, no domestic comforts, &c., I may be the more excusable for having
kept the company of young men, but I can assure you I have lost all
inclination for the practice of such follies as I have once fallen into,
and I look to a steady, sober married life as alone calculated to afford
me happiness.

"I will wait upon you on Monday with most anxious hopes for your
favorable answer.

"I am, Dear Madam,

"Yours most respectfully,


"Shaw, June 1st, 1833."

The reader may be surprised by the double _m_ in the signature. It was
my father's custom to write our name so, for a reason that will be
explained in another chapter. The letter itself is rather formal,
according to the fashion of the time, but I think it is a good letter in
its way, and believe it to have been perfectly sincere. No doubt my
father fully intended to reform his way of life, but it is easier to
make a good resolution than to adhere to it. I do not know enough of the
degree of excess to which his love of pleasure led him, to be able to
describe his life as a young man accurately, but as my mother had been
well brought up and was a refined person for her rank in society, I
conclude that she would not have encouraged a notorious evil-liver.
Those who knew my father in his early manhood have told me that he was
very popular, and yet at the same time that he bore himself with
considerable dignity, one old lady going so far as to say that when he
walked through the main street at Shaw, it seemed as if all the town
belonged to him. It is difficult for us to understand quite accurately
the social code of the Georgian era, when a man might indulge in
pleasures which seem to us coarse and degrading, and yet retain all the
pride and all the bearing of a gentleman.

The marriage took place according to the fixed resolution of the
contracting parties, and their life together was immensely happy during
the short time that it lasted. Most unfortunately it came to an end
after little more than one year by my mother's lamentably premature
death. I happen to possess a letter from my father's sister to her
sister Anne in which she gives an account of this event, and print it
because it conveys the reality more vividly than a narrative at second
hand. The reader will pardon the reference to myself. It matters nothing
to a dead man--as I shall be when this page is printed--whether at the
age of fourteen days he was considered a fine-looking child or a

"_Friday Morning._

"MY DEAR ANNE,--You will not calculate upon so speedy an answer as this
to your long and welcome epistle, nor will you calculate upon the
melancholy intelligence I have to communicate. Poor John's wife,
certainly the most amiable of all woman-kind, departed this life at
twenty minutes past eleven last night. Her recovery from her confinement
was very wonderful, we thought, but alas! it was a false one. The Drs.
Whitaker of Shaw, Wood of Rochdale, and Bardsley of Manchester all agree
in opinion that she has died of mere weakness without any absolute
disease. She has been very delicate for a long time. Poor dear John--if
I were quite indifferent to him I should grieve to see his agonies--he
says at sixty it might have happened in the common course of things and
he would have borne it better, but at twenty-nine, just when he is
beginning life, his sad bereavement does indeed seem untimely. It is a
sore affliction to him, sent for some good, and may he understand and
apply it with wisdom! They had, to be sure, hardly been married long
enough to quarrel, but I never saw a couple so intent on making each
other happy; they had not a thought of each other but what tended to
please. The poor little boy is a very fine one, and I hope he will be
reared, though it often happens that when the mother is consumptive the
baby dies. I do hope when John is able to look after his office a little
that the occupation of his mind will give him calm. He walks from room
to room, and if I meet him and he is able to articulate at all, he says,
'Ah! where must I be? what must I do?' He says nobody had such a wife,
and I do think nobody ever had. He wanted me not to write till
arrangements were made about the funeral. I thought you would be sorry
to be informed late upon a subject so near John's heart, and that it was
too late for Mr. Hinde [Footnote: The Rev. Thomas Hinde, Vicar of
Featherstone, brother-in-law of the writer of the letter.] to come to
the funeral. I have really nothing to say except that our poor sister
was so tolerable on Wednesday morning that I went with the Milnes of
Park House to Henton Park races, which I liked very well, but as things
have turned out I heartily repent going. Ann was, we hoped, positively
recovering on Monday and Tuesday, but it seems to have been a lightening
before death. She was a very long time in the agonies of death, but
seemed to suffer very little. Our afflicted brother joins me in best
love to you and your dear children. Kind compliments to Mr. Hinde.

"I remain,

"Your affectionate Sister,


The letter is without date, but it bears the Manchester postmark of
September 27, 1834, and the day of my birth was the tenth of the same
month. The reader may have observed a discrepancy with reference to my
mother's health. First it is said that the doctors all agreed in the
opinion that she died of mere weakness, without any absolute disease,
but afterwards consumption is alluded to. I am not sure, even yet,
whether my mother was really consumptive or only suffered from debility.
Down to the time when I write this (fifty-one years after my mother's
death) there have never been any symptoms of consumption in me.

No portrait of my mother was ever taken, so that I have never been able
to picture her to myself otherwise than vaguely, but I remember that on
one occasion in my youth when I played the part of a young lady in a
charade, several persons present who had known her, said that the
likeness was so striking that it almost seemed as if she had appeared to
them in a vision, and they told me that if I wanted to know what my
mother was like, I had only to consult a looking-glass. She had blue
eyes, a very fair complexion, and hair of a rich, strongly-colored
auburn, a color more appreciated by painters than by other people. In
the year 1876 I was examining a large boxful of business papers that had
belonged to my father, and burning most of them in a garden in
Yorkshire, when a little packet fell out of a legal document that I was
just going to throw upon the fire. It was a lock of hair carefully
folded in a piece of the bluish paper my father used for his law
correspondence, and fastened with an old wire-headed pin. I at once took
it to a lady who had known my mother, and she said without a moment's
hesitation that the hair was certainly hers, so that I now possess this
relic, and it is all I have of my poor mother whose face I never saw,
and whose voice I never heard. Few people who have lived in the world
have left such slight traces. There are no letters of hers except one or
two formal compositions written at school under the eye of the mistress,
which of course express nothing of her own mind or feelings. Those who
knew her have told me that she was a very lively and amiable person,
physically active, and a good horsewoman. She and my father were fond of
riding out together, and indeed were separated as little as might be
during their brief happiness. She even, on one occasion, went out
shooting with him and killed something, after which she melted into
tears of pity over her victim. [Footnote: A lady related to my mother
shot well, and killed various kinds of game, of which I remember seeing
stuffed specimens as trophies of her skill.]

The reader will pardon me for dwelling thus on these few details of a
life so sadly and prematurely ended. The knowledge that my mother had
died early cast a certain melancholy over my childhood; I found that
people looked at me with some tenderness and pity for her sake, so I
felt vaguely that there had been a great loss, though unable to estimate
the extent of it. Later, when I understood better what pains and perils
Nature inflicts on women in order that children may come into the world,
it seemed that the days I lived had been bought for me by the sacrifice
of days that my mother ought to have lived. She was but twenty-four when
she passed away, so that now I have lived more than twice her span.

The effect of the loss upon my father was utterly disastrous. His new
and good projects were all shattered, and a cloud fell over his
existence that was never lifted. He did not marry again, and he lost his
interest in his profession. My mother left him all her property
absolutely, so he felt no spur of necessity and became indolent or
indifferent; yet those who were capable of judging had a good opinion of
his abilities as a lawyer. Just before his wife's death, my father had
rather distinguished himself in an important case, and received a
testimonial from his client with the following inscription:--

_Presented to Mr. Hammerton, Solr, by his obliged client Mr. Waring, as
a token of Esteem for his active services in the cause tried against
Stopherd at Lancaster, in the arrangement of the argument arising
thereon at Westminster, and his successful defence to the Equity Suit
instituted by the Deft_. 1834.

My father's practice at that time was beginning to be lucrative, and
would no doubt have become much more so in a few years; but the blow to
his happiness that occurred in the September of 1834 produced such
discouragement that he sought relief from his depression in the society
of lively companions. Most unfortunately for him, there was no lively
masculine society in the place where he lived that was not at the same
time a constant incitement to drinking. There were a few places in the
Lancashire of those days where convivial habits were carried to such a
degree that they destroyed what ought to have been the flower of the
male population. The strong and hearty men who believed that they could
be imprudent with impunity, the lively, intelligent, and sociable men
who wanted the wittiest and brightest talk that was to be had in the
neighborhood, the bachelor whose hearth was lonely, and the widower
whose house had been made desolate, all these were tempted to join
meetings of merry companions who set no limits to the strength or the
quantity of their potations. My poor father was a man of great physical
endowments, and he came at last to have a mistaken pride in being able
to drink deeply without betraying any evil effects; but a few years of
such an existence undermined one of the finest constitutions ever given
to mortal man. A quarryman once told me that my father had appeared at
the quarry at six o'clock in the morning looking quite fresh and hearty,
when, taking up the heaviest sledge-hammer he could find, he gayly
challenged the men to try who could throw it farthest. None of them came
near him, on which he turned and said with a laugh of satisfaction,
--"Not bad that, for a man who drank thirty glasses of brandy the
day before!" Whether he had ever approached such a formidable
number I will not venture to say, but the incident exactly paints my
father in his northern pride of strength, the fatal pride that believes
itself able to resist poison because it has the muscles of an athlete.

It was always said by those who knew the family that my father was the
cleverest member of it, but his ability must have expended itself in
witty conversation and in his professional work, as I do not remember
the smallest evidence of what are called intellectual tastes. My mother
had a few books that had belonged to her family, and to these my father
added scarcely anything. I can remember his books quite clearly, even at
this distance of time. One was a biography of William IV., another a set
of sketches of Reform Ministers, a third was Baines's "History of
Lancashire," a fourth a Geographical Dictionary. These were, I believe,
almost all the books (not concerned with the legal profession) that my
father ever purchased. His bookcase did not contain a single volume by
the most popular English poets of his own time, nor even so much as a
novel by Sir Walter Scott. I have no recollection of ever having seen
him read a book, but he took in the "Times" newspaper, and I clearly
remember that he read the leading articles, which it was the fashion at
that time to look upon as models of style. This absence of interest in
literature was accompanied by that complete and absolute indifference to
the fine arts which was so common in the middle classes and the country
aristocracy of those days. I mention these deficiencies to explain the
extreme dulness of my poor father's existence during his widowhood, a
dulness that a lover of books must have a difficulty in imagining. A man
living alone with servants (for his son's childhood was spent
elsewhere), who took hardly any interest in a profession that had become
little more than nominal for him, who had not even the stimulus of a
desire to accumulate wealth (almost the only recognized object in the
place where he lived), a man who had no intellectual pursuits whatever,
and whose youth was too far behind him for any joyous physical activity,
was condemned to seek such amusements as the customs of the place
afforded, and these all led to drinking. He and his friends drank when
they were together to make society merrier, and when they happened to be
alone they drank to make solitude endurable. Had they drunk light wines
like French peasants, or beer like Germans, they might have lasted
longer, but their favorite drink was brandy in hot strong grogs,
accompanied by unlimited tobacco. They dined in the middle of the day,
and had the spirit decanters and the tobacco-box on the table instead of
dessert, frequently drinking through the whole afternoon and a long
evening afterwards. In the morning they slaked alcoholic thirst with
copious draughts of ale. My father went on steadily with this kind of
existence without anything whatever to rescue him from its gradual and
fatal degradation. He separated himself entirely from the class he
belonged to by birth, lived with men of little culture, though they may
have had natural wit, and sacrificed his whole future to mere village
conviviality. Thousands of others have followed the same road, but few
have sacrificed so much. My father had a constitution such as is not
given to one man in ten thousand, and his mind was strong and clear,
though he had not literary tastes. He was completely independent, free
to travel or to make a fortune in his profession if he preferred a
sedentary existence, but the binding force of habit overcame his
weakened will, and he fell into a kind of life that placed intellectual
and moral recovery alike beyond his reach.



My childhood is passed at Burnley with my aunts.--My grandfather and
grandmother.--Estrangement between Gilbert Hamerton and his brother of
Hellifield Peel.--Death of Gilbert Hamerton.--His taste for the French
language.--His travels in Portugal, and the conduct of a steward during
his absence.--His three sons.--Aristocratic tendencies of his
daughters.--Beginning of my education.--Visits to my father.

I was not brought up during childhood under my father's roof, but was
sent to live with his two unmarried sisters. These ladies were then
living in Burnley with their mother.

Burnley is now a large manufacturing town of seventy thousand
inhabitants, but in those days it was just rising in importance, and a
few years earlier it had been a small country town in an uncommonly
aristocratic neighborhood. The gate of Towneley Park opens now almost
upon the town itself, and in former times there were many other seats of
the greater or lesser squires within a radius of a very few miles. It is
a common mistake in the south of England to suppose that Lancashire is a
purely commercial county. There are, or were in my youth, some very
aristocratic neighborhoods in Lancashire, and that immediately about
Burnley was one of them. The creation of new wealth, and the extinction
or departure of a few families, may have altered its character since
then, but in the days of my grandfather nobody thought of disputing the
supremacy of the old houses. There was something almost sublime in the
misty antiquity of the Towneley family, one of the oldest in all
England, and still one of the wealthiest, keeping house in its venerable
castellated mansion in a great park with magnificent avenues. Other
houses of less wealth and more modern date had their pedigrees in the
history of Lancashire.

My grandfather, Gilbert Hamerton, possessed an old gabled mansion with a
small but picturesque estate, divided from Towneley Park by a public
road, and he had other property in the town and elsewhere enough to make
him independent, but not enough to make him one of the great squires.
However, as he was the second son of an ancient Yorkshire family, and as
pedigrees and quarterings counted for something in those comparatively
romantic times, the somewhat exclusive aristocracy about Burnley had
received him with much cordiality from the first, and he continued all
his life to belong to it. His comparative poverty was excused by a
well-known history of confiscation in his family, and perhaps made him
rather more interesting, especially as it did not go far enough to
become--what poverty becomes so easily--ridiculous. He lived in a large
old house, and plentifully enough, but without state and style. His
marriage had been extremely imprudent from the worldly point of view. An
aunt of my grandfather's, on his mother's side, had invited him to stay
with her, and had not foreseen the attractions of a farmer's daughter
who was living in the house as a companion. My good, unworldly
grandfather fell in love with this girl, and married her. He never had
any serious reason to regret this very imprudent step, for Jane Smith
became an excellent wife and mother, and she did not even injure his
position in society, where she knew how to make herself respected, and
was much beloved by her most intimate friends. I remember her, though I
never knew my grandfather. My recollection of her is a sort of picture
of an old lady always dressed in black, and seated near a window, or
walking slowly with a stick. The dawn of reason and feeling is
associated in my memory with an intense affection for this old lady and
with the kind things she said to me, not yet forgotten. I remember, too,
the awful stillness of her dead body (hers was the first dead human body
I looked upon), and the strange emptiness of the house when it had been
taken away.

Though my grandmother was only a farmer's daughter, her parents were
well-to-do in their own line of life, and at various times helped my
grandfather with sums of money; but the fact remained that he had
married quite out of his class, and it has always seemed to me probable
that the marriage may have had some connection with the complete and
permanent estrangement that existed between Gilbert Hamerton and his
brother, the squire of Hellifield Peel. As soon as I was old enough to
understand a little about relationships, I reflected that the houses of
my own uncles were open to me, that my cousins were all like brothers
and sisters to me, and yet that my father and my aunts had never been to
their uncle's house at Hellifield, and that our relations there never
came to see us at Burnley. The explanation of this estrangement given by
my grandfather, was that there had been a disagreement about land; but
perhaps he may have felt some delicacy about telling his children that
his unambitious marriage had contributed to render the separation
permanent. However this may have been, my grandmother never once saw the
inside of her brother-in-law's house, and when she died there was, I
believe, not even the formal expression of condolence that is usual
among acquaintances. Gilbert Hamerton had lived at Hollins, a house and
estate inherited from his mother; and James Hamerton, the elder brother,
lived in a castellated peel or border tower at Hellifield, which had
been built by Lawrence Hamerton in 1440. The two places are not much
more than twenty miles apart; but the brothers never met after their
quarrel, and my grandfather's sons and daughters never saw their uncle's
house. One result of the estrangement was that we hardly seemed to
belong to our own family; and I remember a lady, who had some very vague
and shadowy claims to a distant connection with the family at
Hellifield, asking one of my aunts in a rather patronizing manner if she
also did not "claim to be connected" with the Hamertons of Hellifield
Peel. Even to this day it is difficult for me to realize the simple fact
that she was niece to an uncle whom she had never seen, and first cousin
to his successor.

My grandfather had lived in apparently excellent health till the age of
seventy-seven, when one afternoon as he was seated in his dining-room at
Hollins, nobody being present except his eldest daughter Mary, he asked
her to open the window, and then added, "Say a prayer." She immediately
began to repeat a short prayer, and before she had reached the end of it
he was dead. There is a strange incident connected with his death, which
may be worth something to those who take an interest in what is now
called "Psychical Research." At the same hour his married daughter was
sitting in a room forty miles away with her little boy, a child just old
enough to talk, and the child stared with intense interest at an empty
chair. His mother asked what attracted his attention, and the child
said, "Don't you see, mamma, the old gentleman who is sitting in that
chair?" I am careful not to add details, as my own imagination might
unconsciously amplify them, but my impression is that the child was
asked to describe the vision more minutely, and that his description
exactly accorded with his grandfather's usual appearance.

The old gentleman preserved the costume and manners of the eighteenth
century, wearing his pig-tail, breeches, and shoe-buckles. He took life
too easily for any intellectual achievements, but he had a great liking
for the French language, and wrote a very original French grammar, which
he had curiously printed in synoptic sheets, at his private expense,
though it was never completed or published. I have sometimes thought it
possible that my own aptitude and affinity for that language may have
been inherited from him, and that his labors may in a manner have
overcome many difficulties for me by the wonderful process of
transmission. He never lived in France, and I believe he never visited
the country, his French conversations being chiefly held with a
good-natured Roman Catholic chaplain at Towneley Hall. My grandfather's
most extensive travels were in Portugal, lasting six months, and with
regard to that journey I remember two painful incidents. His travelling
companion, a younger brother, died abroad, in consequence of having
slept in a damp bed. The other incident is vexatious rather than
tragical, and yet Wordsworth would have seen tragedy in it also. During
his absence from home, my grandfather had confided the care of his
estate to an agent, who cut down the old avenue of oaks that led to the
house, on the pretext that some of the trees were showing signs of
decay, and that he had an acceptable offer for the whole. The road
retained the name of "The Avenue" for many years, but the trees were
never replaced.

Perhaps the reader will think this incident hardly worth mentioning, but
to a lover of trees, avenues, and old houses, such as I confess myself
to be, it seems the very perfection of a vexatious incident. I cannot
imagine anything whatever, not entailing any serious consequences, that
would have tried my own temper more.

On my grandfather's death, the whole of his property went to his eldest
son. He had brought up all his three sons to be solicitors, not because
he had any peculiar enthusiasm for the legal profession, but simply as
the readiest means of earning a living. The sons themselves had no
natural affinity for the law; my eldest uncle heartily disliked it, the
other regarded it with cool indifference, and my father expressed his
desire that I should never be a lawyer, on the ground that a man had
enough to plague him in his own concerns without troubling his mind
about those of other people. One curious distinction may be noted here,
as the result probably of that intermingling with the every-day world,
which happens naturally in the career of provincial attorneys. Whilst my
aunts remained all their lives aristocratic in their feelings, and
rather liked to enjoy the hospitality of the great houses in the
neighborhood, my uncles, and my father also, abandoned all aristocratic
memories and aspirations, and entered frankly into the middle class.
Each of them did what was natural under the circumstances. Women are
generally more aristocratic than men, and cling more decidedly to their
class, and I think my aunts showed better taste in liking refined
society than my father did in lowering himself to associate with men of
an inferior stamp in rank, in manners, and in habits. I distinctly
remember how one of my aunts told me that somebody had made a remark on
her liking for great people, and the only comment she made was, that she
preferred gentlefolks because their manners were more agreeable. She was
not a worshipper of rank, but she liked the quiet, pleasant manners of
the aristocracy, which indeed were simply her own manners.

My childhood could not have been better cared for, even by my own
mother, than by these two excellent ladies. They gave me a beginning of
education, and they have told me since that I learned to read English
with the greatest facility, so that when I was sent to the Grammar
School at Burnley, at the early age of five and a half, the master
considered me so well forward that I was set at once to Latin. In those
days it was a part of the wisdom of our educators to make us learn Latin
out of a grammar written in that language, and I retain some
recollection of the perfectly useless mental fatigue and puzzlement that
I was made to undergo in learning abstract statements about grammatical
science that were written in a tongue which I could not possibly
understand. The idea of taking a child five and a half years old, and
making it learn a dead language by abstract rules, is of itself a great
error. The proper way to teach a child Latin is simply to give it a
vocabulary, including only the things that it can see or imagine, and a
few verbs to make little phrases. I had learned to read English so
easily that good hopes were entertained for the rest of my education,
but my progress in Latin was very slow, and the only result of my early
training was to give me a horror of everything printed in Latin, that I
did not overcome for many years.

There was another child-pupil rather older than I, and the head-master
of those days (Dr. Butler's predecessor), who had a rude disposition,
sometimes amused himself by putting me on one of his knees, and the
other little boy on the other knee, after which, by an adroit
simultaneous movement of the two legs, he suddenly brought our heads
into collision. I quite remember the sensation of being stunned on these
occasions, but am not aware that my Latin was any the better for it.

My recollection of those early years is extremely vague, and there is
little in them that could interest the reader. I was taken once or twice
a year to my father, and always disliked and dreaded those visits, as I
feared him greatly, and with good reason. On one of these visits, when
quite a child, I persuaded my father's groom to let me mount his
saddle-horse, which I remember as a gray animal of what seemed a
prodigious altitude. The man put me on the horse's back, and being
entirely destitute of common-sense or prudence, actually gave me a whip
and left the bridle to me. I applied the whip vigorously, and was very
soon thrown off and carried back to the house covered with blood,
happily without more serious consequences. Another little incident has
more of the comic element. My father employed a tailor for himself, and
told the man to make me a suit without entering into any particulars.
The tailor being thus left to his own wisdom, made a costume that was
the exact copy of a full-grown squire's dress on a small scale. It was
composed of a green cut-away coat, a yellow waistcoat, and green
trousers, the whole adorned with gilt buttons. The tailor dressed me,
and then, proud of his work, presented me to my father and the ladies.
If the tailor was proud, my pride and satisfaction were at least equal
to his, and we neither of us could in the least understand the roars of
laughter that my appearance provoked, whilst our feelings were deeply
wounded by my father's tyrannical decree that I was never to wear those
beautiful clothes at all. Even to this day I am capable of regretting
that suit, and certainly I often see children now whose costumes are at
least equally absurd.



A tour in Wales in 1842.--Extracts from my journal of this tour.--My
inborn love for beautiful materials.--Stay at Rhyl.--Anglesea and
Caernarvon.--Reasons for specially remembering this tour.

The pleasantest recollections I have of my father are connected with a
tour in Wales that he undertook with me and his eldest sister in the
summer of 1842. My aunt made me keep a journal of that tour, which I
still possess, and by its help those days come hack to me with a
vividness that is very astonishing to myself. Being accustomed to live
with grown-up people, and having no companions of my own age in the same
house (though I had cousins at Hollins and friends at school), I had
acquired a way of talking about things as older people talk, so that the
journal in question contains many observations that do not seem natural
for a child. The fact, no doubt, is that I listened to my father and
aunt, and then put down many of their remarks in my little history of
our tour; but I was very observant on my own account, and received very
strong impressions, especially from buildings, such as old castles and
cathedrals, and great houses, and I had a topographic habit of mind even
in childhood, which made every fresh locality interesting to me and
engraved it on my memory. Perhaps the reader may like to see a page of
the diary. It seems rather formal and elderly to be written by a child
eight years old, but it must be remembered that it was an exercise
written by my father's desire and to please him. Letters to my cousins
at the same date would have been more juvenile. Nevertheless, it was
perfectly natural for me then to use words employed by older people, and
the reader will remember that I had been learning Latin for more than
two years.

"On the road from Rhydland to Abergele we saw Hemmel Park, the seat of
Lord Dinorbin, lately burnt down. Near Rhydland is Penwarn, the seat of
Lord Mostyn; the house is small and unpretending, the grounds are
beautiful. There is a very handsome dog-kennel, in which are kept
forty-four couple of fine fox-hounds ready for work, besides old ones in
one kennel, and young ones in another: the dogs all in such good order
and kennels so perfectly clean. In one field were sixteen hunters
without shoes. Lord Mostyn does not live much at Penwarn, generally in
London. He is an old man, and at present an invalid. We had several
pleasant days' fishing in the Clwyd and Elway; a Mr. Graham at Rhyl has
permission to fish in Lord Mostyn's preserve, and he may take a friend,
which character Papa and I personated for the time.

"About eight miles from Rhyl is Trelacre, the seat of Sir Pyers Mostyn,
a very excellent modern building; the grounds are laid out with most
luxuriant taste, nothing is wanting to give effect to it as a whole. In
the woods opposite the house is a rich but rather formal distribution of
flower-beds; everything appeared to be in blossom. On an elevation is
placed the most ingeniously contrived Grotto; at every turn there is a
device of another character to the last, here a lion couchant, there the
head of Momus, a wild boar's head, a heron, a skeleton, &c., &c. In one
place were two old friars seated, each leaning on his stick, apparently
in earnest conversation; all these are roughly, but with great accuracy,
formed upon the numerous pillars which support a room or two above. The
last object you arrive at is a hermit as large as life seated in his
cell, with one book beside him and another on his knee, upon which his
left hand is placed; his right is laid across his breast. The pillars
are so contrived that the little cavern is light in every part; at the
entrance is an immense sea-dragon with large glaring eyes and a long red
tongue hanging half-way out. The monster had an effect somewhat
startling. Next above the grotto is a small room hewn out of the rock,
with sofas and pillows on each side the fireplace hewn out of the same
rock. In the centre is a stone table, upon which were some beautiful
antique bowls, cups, &c. The door to this apartment is a great
curiosity, being made to appear as if of rock; we did not think at first
that it was a real door. Over this room is another, the residence of a
lame woman, who showed us upon the leads above her dwelling a very
extensive prospect; amongst the objects was the mouth of the river Dee.
She afterwards [took us] to a moss house, and several other nice points
in the garden. The walks are covered with the material left in washing
the lead ore, through which no weed can even peep. It is many-colored,
and the glittering of here and there a bit of ore, lead, or silver, has
a very pretty effect indeed."

The reader will have had enough of the journal by this time. Its only
merit is the accurate noting down of details that I had seen; but many
of the details are such as children of that age do not commonly pay
attention to, as, for instance, in this bit about an old church:--

"The church at Dyserth has an east window which is considered the
greatest antiquity in Wales; many figures of the saints are represented
in colored glass, the lead betwixt the panes is the breadth of two
fingers. The yard has several old trees--two very fine yews, and
certainly the largest birch for miles round."

I notice a great interest in all beautiful materials throughout the
pages of this journal; the kind of wood used for the suites of furniture
is invariably mentioned, as, for example, the chairs of solid ebony in
the dining-room at Penrhyn Castle, the old oak in the dining-room at
Trelacre, and the light oak in the drawing-room, the carved oak ceilings
and pillars at Penrhyn, and the use of stone from St. Helen's there, as
well as the bedstead that is made of slate, and the enormous table of
the same material in the servants' hall. The interest in materials is a
special instinct, a kind of sympathy with Nature showing itself by
appreciation of the different qualities of her products. This instinct
has always been very strong in me, and I have often noticed it in
others, especially in artists. Some poets are very fond of describing
beautiful materials; but the instinct is not confined to poetical or
artistic natures, being often found amongst workmen in the handicrafts,
and it may be associated with a sense of the usefulness of materials, as
well as with admiration of their beauty. With me the interest in them is
both artistic and utilitarian; all metals, woods, marble, etc., are
delightful to me in some way.

In 1842 Rhyl was a little quiet place known to the Liverpool people as a
good bathing-place, but not spoiled by formal rows of houses and big
hotels. There was at that time in Rhyl a gentleman who possessed a sort
of genteel cottage in a relatively large garden, and though the house
was small, it might have done for a widower like my father, and it was
for sale. I remember urging my father to buy it, as Rhyl pleased me on
account of the possibilities of boating and riding on the sands, besides
which we had enjoyed some excellent fishing, which delighted me as a
child, though I gave up the amusement afterwards. I mention the house
here for a particular reason. It has remained very distinctly in my
memory ever since, as my father's last chance of escape from his habits
and associates. Whilst we were in Wales together he conducted himself as
a man ought to do who is travelling with a lady and a child. He was not
harsh with me, and notwithstanding my habitual fear of him, some of my
Welsh days with him are pleasant to live over again in memory. Now, if
he had bought that house, the sort of life we were then leading might
have become habitual, and he might possibly have been saved from the sad
fate that awaited him. However, though tempted for a moment, he refused
because it did not seem a good investment, being a flimsy little
building, not very well contrived.

Though my father would not buy the house to please me, he bought me a
little bay mare at Rhyl that was a pretty and swift creature, and we
took her on the steamer to Menai, where, for want of a convenient
arrangement for landing horses, she was pitched into the sea and made to
swim ashore. She had been in a hot place on the steamer, near the
engines, and the sudden change to the cold sea-water was probably (so we
thought afterwards) the reason why she became broken-winded, which was a
great grief to me. I hardly know why I record these trifles, but they
have an importance in the feelings of a boy, and I am weak enough to
have very tender feelings about animals down to the present day.

We visited Anglesea and Caernarvon, and other places too well known for
the reader to tolerate a description of them here. In those days the
tubular bridge had not yet been thought of; but the beautiful suspension
bridge at Menai was already in existence, and was the most remarkable
bridge then existing in the world. I was more struck by the beauty of
the structure than by its costliness or size; the journal says, "It is
indeed wonderfully beautiful." On one of our excursions we saw what in
rainy weather is a good waterfall, and I find a reference to this that I
quote for the curious bit of Welsh-English that is included in it,--"We
came to a little village, which has in a wet season a very fine
waterfall; the driver said it would not be seen to advantage because
there was 'few water.' There certainly was 'few water,' but the fine
high rocks gave a powerful idea of what it would have been had the
rushing of waters taken the place of the death-like stillness which then

The reader will perhaps pardon me for having dwelt longer on this Welsh
tour than the interest of it may seem to warrant; but I look back to it
with lingering regret as the last agreeable association connected with
the memory of my father. It was a most happy little tour. I had an
intensely strong affection for my father's eldest sister Mary, who
accompanied us, and whose dear handwriting I recognize in a few
corrections in the journal. Besides, that year 1842 is absolutely the
last year of my life in which I could live in happy ignorance of evil
and retain all the buoyancy of early boyhood. A terrible experience was
in reserve for me that soon aged me rapidly, and made a really merry
boyish life impossible for me after having passed through it.



A painful chapter to write.--My father calls me home.--What kind of a
house it was.--Paternal education and discipline.--My life at that time
one of dulness varied by dread.

The writing of this chapter is so painful to me that the necessity for
it has made me put off the composition of this autobiography year after
year. Then why not omit the chapter altogether? The omission is
impossible, because the events of the year 1843-1844 were quite the most
important of my early boyhood, and have had a most powerful and in some
respects a disastrous influence over my whole life.

Notwithstanding my father's kindness to me during our Welsh tour, my
feelings towards him were not, and could not be, those of trust and
confidence. He was extremely severe at times, often much more so than
the occasion warranted, this being partly natural in a strong
authoritative man, and partly the result of irritability brought on by
his habit of drinking. When inflamed with brandy he became positively
dangerous, and I had a well-founded dread of his presence. At all times
he was very uncertain--he might greet me with a kind word or he might be
harsh or silent, just as it happened. During my visits to him at Shaw,
one of my two aunts invariably accompanied me and stayed as long as I
stayed, which was a great protection for me. The idea of being left
alone with my father, even for a day, was enough to fill me with
apprehension; however, it did not seem likely that I should have to live
with him, as I should probably be sent to some distant school, and only
come home for the holidays.

This was the view of my future that was taken by my aunts and myself,
when one day in the year 1843, I believe in the month of June, there
came a letter from my father peremptorily declaring, in terms which
admitted of no discussion, that although a child might live with ladies
it was not good for a boy, and that he had determined to have me for the
future under his own roof. The news came upon me like a thunderclap in a
clear sky. I had grateful and affectionate feelings towards both my
aunts, but to the elder my feelings were those of a son, and a very
loving son, towards his mother. She had, in fact, taken the place of my
mother so completely that I remained unconscious of my loss. I reserve
for a pleasanter chapter than this the delightful duty of painting her
portrait; at present it is enough to say that a separation from her in
childhood was the most bitter grief that could be experienced by me, and
my father's ukase made this separation seem destined to be eternal,
except perhaps a short visit in the holidays. In a word, my filial life
with her seemed at an end.

I was taken to my father's and left alone with him. Some years before,
he had bought a house in Shaw called Ivy Cottage,--a house with a front
of painted stucco, looking on a garden,--and though the gable end of the
house looked on a street, the other end had a view over some fields, not
then built over. My father rented one or two of these fields for his
horses and cows, and some farm buildings just big enough for his small
establishment. He did not keep a carriage, and had even given up his
dogcart, but he always had a saddle-horse for himself and a pony for me;
at one time I had two ponies. His horses were his only luxury, but he
was as exacting about them as if he had been a rich nobleman. He would
not tolerate careless grooming for an instant; bits and stirrups were
always kept in a state of exemplary brightness, and when he rode through
Shaw he was quite fit to be seen in Hyde Park. At that time he had a
jet-black mare of a vicious temper, which only gratified his pride as a
horseman, and it so happened (I am not inventing this for a contrast)
that my pony was of the purest white with full mane and tail of the
same, and shaped exactly like the sturdy war-horses in old pictures. As
he was still a fine-looking, handsome man and I was a healthy boy, no
doubt we looked well enough, and it is probable that many a poor factory
lad envied me my good luck in being able to ride about in that way,
instead of working in a mill; but I rode in constant dread of my
father's heavy hunting-whip. It had a steel hammer at the end of the
long handle, and if at any time its owner fancied that I was turning my
toes out, he did not say anything, but with a dexterity acquired by
practice he delivered a sharp blow with that hammer on my foot which
made me writhe with pain. Nothing vexed him more than any appearance of
gentleness or tenderness. I loved my pony, Lily, and did not like to
beat her when she was doing her best, and she had hard work to keep up
with my father's ill-tempered mare, so he would say, "D--n it, can't you
whip her? Can't you whip better than that? The strokes of that whip of
yours are so feeble that they wouldn't kill a fly!" Nobody could say
that of _his_ hitting. I had a little young dog that was very dear to
me, and when it pleased my father one day to walk into the kitchen, it
unluckily so happened that the dog was, or seemed to be, in his way, so
he gave it a kick that sent it into the middle of the room, and there it
lay quivering. He took no notice of it, said what he had to say, in his
usual peremptory tone, and then left the room. I knelt down by the poor
little dog, which was in its death-agony, and shortly breathed its last.

During our rides my dreaded companion would stop at many inns and
private houses, where he slaked his perpetual thirst in stirrup-cups, or
sometimes he would go in and sit for a long time whilst the horses were
cared for by some groom. The effects of these refreshments could not
fail to be evident as we returned home; and it was more by good luck
than anything else, except his habitually excellent horsemanship, that
he was able to ride at all in that condition. I clearly remember one
particular occasion when he seemed to be keeping his seat with more than
usual uncertainty, and at last fairly rolled out of it. We were riding
along a paved street, so that the fall would have been very serious; but
two or three men who were watching him foresaw the accident just in
time, and rushed forward to catch him as he fell. On another occasion
when I was not present (indeed this happened before my settled residence
with my father) he fell in a most dangerous way, with his foot caught in
the stirrup, and was dragged violently down a steep hill till the horse
was brought to a stand. Fortunately my father wore a top-coat at the
time, which was soon torn off his back by the friction, and so were his
other clothes, and the back itself was almost flayed; but the doctor
said that if he had been lightly dressed the accident would have been far
more serious.

My father would sometimes send me on errands to a considerable distance
with the pony, and as he hated all dawdling and loitering in others,
though he had become a perfectly undisciplined man himself, he would
limit me strictly to the time necessary for my journey, a time that I
never ventured to exceed. In some respects the education that he was
giving me, though of Spartan severity, was not ill calculated for the
formation of a manly character. He quite understood the importance of
applying the mind completely to the thing which occupied it for the
moment. If he saw me taking several books together that had no
connection with each other, he would say, "Take one of those books and
read it steadily, don't potter and play with half-a-dozen."

Desultory effort irritated him, and he was quick to detect busy idleness
under its various disguises. He swore very freely himself, and as I
heard so many oaths I was beginning to acquire the same accomplishment,
when he overheard me accidentally and gave me such a stern lecture on
the subject that I knew ever after I was not to follow the paternal
example. What his soul hated most, however, was a lie or the shadow of a
lie. He could not tolerate the little fibs that are common with women
and children, and are often their only protection against despotism.
"Tell the truth and shame the devil" was one of his favorite precepts,
though why the devil should feel ashamed because I spoke the truth was
never perfectly clear to my childish intellect. However, the precept
sank deep into my nature, and got mixed up with a feeling of
self-respect, so that it became really difficult for me to tell fibs. I
remember on one occasion being a martyr for truth in peculiarly trying
circumstances. It was before I lived permanently under the paternal
roof, and on one of those visits we paid to my father. An aunt was with
me (not the one who accompanied us to Wales), and she was often rather
hard and severe. My father had made a law that I was to practise with
dumb-bells a quarter of an hour every morning, and this exercise was
taken in the garden, but before beginning I always looked at the clock
which was in the sitting-room. On coming back into the house one
morning, I met my father, who said, "Have you done your fifteen
minutes?" "Yes, papa." "That is not true," said my aunt from the next
room, "he has only practised for ten minutes; look at the clock!" My
terrible master looked at the clock; the finger stood at ten minutes
after eleven, and this was taken as conclusive evidence against me. I
simply answered (what was true) that I had begun five minutes before the
hour. This "additional lie" put my father into a fury, and he ordered me
to do punishment drill with those dumb-bells for two hours without
stopping. Of those hundred and twenty minutes he did not remit one. Long
before their expiration I was ready to drop, but he came frequently to
show that he had his eye upon me, and the horrible machine-like motion
must continue. On other occasions I got punished for lying, when my only
fault was the common childish inability to explain. "Why did you tear
that piece of paper?" "Please, papa, I did not tear it; _I pulled it,
and it tore_." Here is a child attempting to explain that he had not
torn a piece of paper voluntarily, that he had stretched it only, and
had himself been surprised by the tearing. In my father's code that was
a "confounded lie," and I was to be severely punished for it.

His system of education included riding as an essential part, and that
he taught me well, so far as a child of that age could learn it. But
though there were harriers within a few miles he could not take me to
hunt, as children are sometimes taken in easier countries, the fields in
Lancashire being so frequently divided by stone walls. The nature of our
neighborhood equally prevented him from teaching me to swim, which he
would otherwise have done, as there were no streams deep enough, or left
in their natural purity. To accustom me to water, however, he made me
take cold shower-baths, certainly the best substitute for a plunge that
can be had in an ordinary room. In mental education he attached great
importance to common things, to arithmetic, for example, and to good
reading aloud, and intelligible writing. His own education had been very
limited; he knew no modern language but his own, and I believe he knew
no Greek whatever, and only just enough Latin for a solicitor, which in
those days was not very much; but if he was a Philistine in neglecting
his own culture, he had not the real Philistine's contempt for culture
in others and desired to have me well taught; yet there was nobody near
at hand to continue my higher education properly, and I was likely, had
we lived long together at Shaw, to become like the regular middle-class
Englishmen of those days, who from sheer want of preliminary training
were impervious to the best influences of literature and art. I might
have written a clear business letter, and calculated interest

To accustom me to money matters, child as I was, my father placed gold
and silver in my keeping, and whatever I spent was to be accounted for.
In this way money was not to be an imaginary thing for me, but a real
thing, and I was not to lose the control of myself because I had my
pocket full of sovereigns. This was a very original scheme in its
application to so young a child, but it perfectly succeeded, and I never
either lost or misapplied one halfpenny of the sums my father entrusted
to my keeping. He was evidently pleased with his success in this.

There was a village school near his house kept by a respectable man for
children of both sexes, and there I was sent to practise calligraphy and
arithmetic. During school-hours there was at least complete relief from
the paternal supervision, and besides this I managed to fall in love
with a girl about a year older than myself, who was a very nice girl
indeed, though she squinted to an unfortunate degree. That is the great
advantage of having the young of both sexes in the same schoolroom,--the
manners of the brutal sex may be made tender by the presence of the
refined one. Boys and girls both went to the Grammar School at Burnley,
in the now forgotten days when Mr. Raws was head-master there; but that
was long before my time.

My existence at Ivy Cottage was one of extreme dulness varied by dread.
Every meal was a _tête-à-tête_ with my father, unrelieved by the
presence of any lady or young person, and he became more and more gloomy
as his nervous system gradually gave way, so that after having been
simply stern and unbending, he was now like a black cloud always hanging
over me and ready, as it seemed, to be my destruction in some way or
other not yet clearly defined. It was an immense relief to me when a
guest came to dinner, and I remember being once very much interested in
a gentleman who sat opposite me at table, for the simple reason that I
believed him to be the Duke of Wellington. There was rather more fuss
than usual in the way of preparation, and my father treated his guest
with marked deference, besides which the stranger had the Wellingtonian
nose, so my youthful mind was soon made up on the subject, and I
listened eagerly in the hope that the hero of Waterloo would fight some
of his battles over again. He remained, however, silent on that subject,
and I afterwards had the disappointment of learning that our guest was
not the Duke, but only the holder of a high office in the county.



My extreme loneliness.--Thoughts of flight.--My father's last illness
and death.--Circumstances of my last interview with him.--His funeral.

It was one of the effects of the constant anxiety and excitement, and
the dreadful wretchedness of that time, that my brain received the
images of all surrounding creatures and things with an unnatural
clearness and intensity, and that they were impressed upon it for life.
Even now everything about Ivy Cottage is as clear as if the forty years
were only as many days, and the writing of these chapters brings
everything before me most vividly, not only the faces of the people and
the habits and motions of the animals, but even the furniture, of which
I remember every detail, down to the coloring of the services in the
bedrooms, and the paint on my father's rocking-chair. An anecdote has
been told in these pages about exercise with dumb-bells and an appeal to
the clock. In writing that, I saw the real clock with the moon on its
face (for it showed the phases of the moon), and my aunt standing near
the window with her work in her hand and glancing up from the work to
the clock, just as she did in reality.

Amongst other particular occasions I remember one night when the moon
shone very brightly in the garden, and I was sitting near my bedroom
window looking over it, meditating flight. My father's cruelty had then
reached its highest point. I was always spoken to harshly when he
condescended to take any notice of me at all, and was very frequently
beaten. Our meals together had become perfectly intolerable. He would
sit and trifle with his cutlet, and cover it with pepper, for his
appetite was completely gone, and there was no conversation except
perhaps an occasional expression of displeasure. The continual tension
caused by anxiety made my sleep broken and uncertain, and that night I
sat up alone in the bedroom longer than usual and looking down upon the
moonlit garden. There was an octagonal summer-house of trellis-work on
the formal oblong lawn, and on the top of it was a large hollow ball of
sheet-copper painted green that had cost my grandmother three pounds. It
is oddly associated with my anxieties on that night, because I looked
first at it and then at the moon alternately whilst thinking. The
situation had become absolutely intolerable, the servants were my only
protectors, and though devoted they never dared to interfere when their
master was actually beating me. I therefore seriously weighed, in my own
childish manner, the possibilities of a secret flight. The moonlight was
tempting--it would be easy to go alone to the stable and saddle the
pony. On a fine night I could be many miles away before morning. There
was no difficulty whatever about money; I had plenty of sovereigns in a
drawer to be accounted for afterwards to my father, and meanwhile could
employ them in escaping from him. Still, I knew that such an employment
of _his_ money would be looked upon by him as a breach of trust, and
would, in fact, _be_ a breach of trust. This consideration was not
easily set aside, though I now see that it was needlessly scrupulous,
and have no doubt whatever that if a child is left by the ignorance or
the carelessness of superior authority in the hands of a madman, it has
a clear right to provide for its own safety by any means in its power.

But where was I to go? My uncles were two very cool lawyers, always on
the side of authority, and they would not be likely to believe my story
entirely. A vague but sure instinct warned me that they would set me
down for a rebellious boy who wanted to escape from justly severe
paternal authority, and that they would at once send me back to Ivy
Cottage. One of my two maiden aunts would be very likely to take the
same view, but if the other received me with kindness, she could not
have strength to resist my father, who would send or go to her at once
and claim me. After thinking over all these things, I came to the
conclusion that real safety was only to be found amongst strangers, and
it seemed so hazardous to ask protection from unknown people that I
decided to remain; but a very little would have settled it the other
way. If those sovereigns had been really my own, I should probably have
crept out of the house, saddled the pony, and ridden many miles; but so
young a boy travelling alone would have been sure to attract attention,
and the attempt to win deliverance would have been a failure. In after
years, one of my elder relatives said that the attempt would almost
certainly have caused my father to disinherit me by a new will, as my
mother's property had been left to him absolutely. This danger was quite
of a serious kind (more serious than the reader will think probable from
what I choose to say in this place), as my father had another heir in
view whom I never saw, but who was held _in terrorem_ over me.

I awoke one bleak winter's morning about five o'clock, and heard the
strangest cries proceeding from his room. His manservant had been
awakened before me and had gone to the room already, where he was
engaged in a sort of wrestling match with my father, who, in the belief
that the house was full of enemies, was endeavoring to throw himself out
of the window. Other men had been called for, who speedily arrived, and
they overpowered him, though even the remnant of his mighty strength was
such that it took six men to hold him on his bed. The attack lasted a
whole week, and the house would have been a perfect hell, had not a
certain event turned it for me into a Paradise.

I had not been able somehow to get to sleep late at night for a short
time, when a light in the room awoke me. The horrible life I had been
leading for many a day and night had produced a great impressionability,
and I was particularly afraid of my father in the night-time, so I
started up in bed with the idea that he was come to beat me, when lo!
instead of his terrible face, I saw what for me was the sweetest and
dearest face in the whole world! It was his sister Mary, she who had
taken my mother's place, and whom I loved with a mingled sentiment of
filial tenderness and gratitude that remained undiminished in force,
though it may have altered in character, during all the after years. For
the suddenness of revulsion from horror to happiness, there has never
been a minute in my existence comparable to the minute when I realized
the idea that she had come. At first it seemed only a deceptive dream.
Such happiness was incredible, and I did not even know she had been sent
for; but the sweet reality entered into my heart like sunshine, and
throwing my arms about her neck I burst into a passion of tears. She, in
her quiet way, for she hardly ever yielded to a strong emotion, though
her feelings were deep and tender, looked at me sadly and kindly and
told me to sleep in peace, as she was going to remain in the house some
time. Then she left the room, and I lay in the darkness, but with a new
light brighter than sunshine in the hope that the miserable life with my
father had at length come to an end. It had only been six months in all,
but it had seemed longer than any half-dozen years gone through before
or after.

If this book were a novel, a very effective chapter might be written to
describe my father's sufferings during his week of delirium, and all the
dreadful fancies by which his disordered brain was oppressed and
tortured; but I prefer to skip that week altogether, and come to a
morning when his recovery was thought to be assured. He was no longer
delirious, but apparently quite calm, though his manner was hard and
imperious. He ordered me to be sent up to him, and I went almost
trembling with the old dread of him, and with a wretched feeling that
after my single week of respite the tyranny was to begin again. Such may
have been the feelings of an escaped slave when he has been caught and
brought back in irons, and stands once more in his master's presence. I
tried to congratulate my master on his recovery in a clumsy childish
way, but he peremptorily ordered me to fetch the "Times" and read to
him. I began, as usual, one of the leading articles on the politics of
the day, and before I had read many sentences my hearer declared that I
was reading badly and made the article nonsense. Why had I put in such
and such words of my own? he asked. His own precept that I was always to
tell the truth under any circumstances had habituated me to be truthful
even to him, so I answered boldly that I had not inserted the words
attributed to me. Then I read a little farther, and he accused me of
inserting something else that was not and could not be in the text; I
said it was he who was mistaken, and he flew into an uncontrollable
fury, one of those rages in which it had been his custom to punish me
without mercy. What he might have done to me I cannot tell; he raised
himself in bed and glared at me with an expression never to be
forgotten. My aunt, however, had been listening at the door, thinking it
probable that I should be in danger, and she now opened it and told me
to come away. I have a confused recollection of reaching the door under
a parting volley of imprecations.

It was a mistake to let my father see me, as, in the perverted state of
his mind, the mere sight of me was enough to make him furious. Whether
he hated me or not, nobody knows; but he treated me as if I was the most
odious little object that could be brought before his eyes. Very soon
after the scene about the article in the "Times," and probably in
consequence of the excitement brought on by it, my father had a fit of
apoplexy, and lingered till the next morning about nine o'clock. I was
not in the room when he died, but my aunt took me to see him immediately
after, and then I received an impression which has lasted to the present
day. The corpse was lying on its side amidst disordered bedclothes, and
to this day I can never go into a bedroom where the bed has not been
made without feeling as if there were a corpse in it. That dreadful
childish sensation received when I saw my father's body just as it lay
at the close of the death-agony, can even now be revived by the sight of
a disordered bed; such is the force of early impressions, especially
when they are received by a nervous system that has been overwrought by
the extreme of mental wretchedness.

The reader will hardly believe that the death of so hard a father could
have been felt otherwise than as an inexpressible relief, and yet I was
deeply affected by his loss. The kindest of fathers could hardly have
been wept for more. My aunt's tears were more explicable; she was old
enough to understand the frightful waste of the best gifts involved in
that premature ending; as for my grief, perhaps the true explanation of
it may be that I mourned rather the father who had been kind to me in
Wales, than the cruel master at Ivy Cottage.

I sometimes try to imagine what he might have been under more favorable
circumstances. There were times after his wife's death when he meditated
a complete change of residence, which might have saved him. He would
always have been severe and authoritative, but without alcohol he would
probably not have been cruel.

I remember the day of the funeral quite distinctly. My father's two
brothers came, though he had had scarcely any intercourse with them for
years. They were most respectable men, quite free from my father's
errors; but they had not half his life and energy. Such was the strength
of his constitution that so recently as the time of our journey in Wales
his health was not visibly impaired, and at the time of his death he had
that rare possession for a man of thirty-nine, a complete set of
perfectly sound teeth.

His coffin was carried on the shoulders of six men from Ivy Cottage to
the graveyard near the chapel. Shaw at that time had only a chapel, a
hideous building on a bleak piece of rising ground, surrounded by many
graves. It never looked more dreary than on that wretched January day in
1844, when we stood round as the sexton threw earth on my father's
coffin. He was laid in the same tomb with the poor young wife who had
loved him truly, and to whom he had been a tender and devoted husband
whilst their short union lasted.

I am the only survivor of that day's ceremony. The little procession has
all followed my father into the darkness, descending one by one into
graves separated by great spaces of land and sea. And when this is
printed I, too, shall be asleep in mine.



Dislike to Shaw in consequence of the dreadful life I led there with my
father.--My guardian.--Her plan for my education.--Doncaster
School.--Mr. Cape and his usher.--The usher's intolerance of Dissenters.
--My feeling for architecture and music.--The drawing-master.--My
guardian insists on my learning French.--Our French master, Sig.
Testa.--A painful incident.--I begin to learn the violin.--Dancing.--My
aversion to cricket.--Early readings.--Love of Scott.--My first
library.--Classical studies.

One consequence of the horrible life I had led at Ivy Cottage was a
permanent dislike to the place and the neighborhood, the evil effects of
which will be seen in the sequel. For the present it is enough to say
that I never went there again quite willingly. After my father's death
my grandmother lived in the village, and I was taken to see her every
year until her death; but though she was a very kind old lady, it was a
trial to me to visit her. I used to lie awake in her house at nights,
realizing those horrible nights I had passed at Ivy Cottage, with such
extreme intensity that it seemed as if my father might enter the room at
any time. This was not a superstitious dread of apparitions; but the
association of ideas brought back the past with a clearness that was
extremely painful. Even now, at a distance of more than forty years, I
avoid whatever reminds me of that time, and am not sorry that this
narrative now leads to something else.

My father had no great affection for his brothers, who on their part
could not have much esteem for him, so there was a mutual coolness which
prevented him from appointing either of them to be my guardian. Probably
they felt this as a slight, for, although always kind to me, they held
completely aloof from anything like paternal interference with my
education. My father had named his eldest sister, Mary, as my sole
guardian, with, two lawyers as co-executors with her. The reader will
probably think it was a mistake to appoint an old maid to be guardian to
a boy; but my aunt was a woman of excellent sense, and certainly not
disposed to bring me up effeminately; indeed, her willingness to
encourage me in everything manly was such that she would always inflict
upon herself considerable anxiety about my safety rather than prevent me
from taking my full share of the more or less perilous exercises of
youth. As to my education and profession her scheme was very simple and
clear, and would have been perfectly rational if I had been all that she
wished me to be. According to her plan I was to go to good schools
first, and then be prepared for Oxford by tutors, and become a
clergyman. There was some thought at one time of sending me to one of
the great public schools; but this was abandoned, and I was first sent
to Burnley School again, and then, after the summer holidays of 1845, to
Doncaster, where I was a boarder in the house of the head-master.

A word from me in favor of one of the public schools would probably have
decided my guardian to send me there; but there was a _vis inertiae_ in
my total want of social and scholastic ambition. I never in my life felt
the faintest desire to rise in the world either by making the
acquaintance of people of rank (which is the main reason why boys of
middling station are sent to aristocratic schools), or by getting
letters put after my name as a reward for learning what had no intrinsic
charm for me. In the worldly sense I never had any ambition whatever.

It seemed rather hard, after living at Burnley with my kind guardian, to
be sent to Doncaster School and separated from her for five months at a
time, but she thought the separation necessary, as there was nothing in
the world she dreaded more than that her great affection might spoil me.
Always gentle in her ways, always kind and considerate, that admirable
woman had still a remarkable firmness of character, and would act, on
due occasion, in direct opposition both to her own feelings and to mine,
if she believed that duty required it.

In those days there was no railway station at Doncaster, and my guardian
took me from Featherstone (where her brother-in-law, Mr. Hinde, was
vicar) to Doncaster in a hired carriage. I remember that it was an open
carriage and we had nobody with us except the driver, and it was a fine
hot day in August. I remember the long road, the arrival at an inn at
Doncaster not far from the new church, and my first presentation to Mr.
Cape, the head-master, who seemed a very kind and gentle sort of
clergyman to a boy not yet acquainted with his cane. Then I was left
alone in the strange school, not in the best of spirits, and if it had
been difficult to restrain tears when my guardian left me, it became
impossible in the little iron bed in the dormitory at night.

There were not many boarders, perhaps a dozen, and three or four private
pupils who were preparing for Cambridge. All these were lodged in the
head-master's house, which was in a pleasant, open part of the town, on
the road leading to the race-course, just beyond the well-known
Salutation Hotel. Besides these, there were rather a large number of day
scholars,--I forget how many, perhaps fifty or sixty,--and in those days
the schoolhouse was a ground floor under the old theatre. We marched
down thither in the morning under the control of an usher, who was
always with us in our walks. This usher, whose name I well remember, but
do not choose to print, was a vulgar, overbearing man whom it was
difficult to like, yet at the same time we all felt that he was a very
valuable master. Boys feel the difference between a master who is a
gentleman and one who falls short of that ideal. We were clearly aware
that the head-master, Mr. Cape, was a gentleman, and that the usher was
not. Nevertheless, in spite of his occasional coarseness and even
brutality, the usher was a painstaking, honest fellow, who did his duty
very energetically. His best quality, which I appreciate far more now
than I did then, was an extreme readiness to help a willing boy in his
work, by clearly explaining those difficulties that are likely to stop
him in his progress. Mr. Cape was more an examiner than a teacher, at
least for us; with the private pupils he may have been more didactic.
The usher evidently liked to be asked; he was extremely helpful to me,
and thanks to him chiefly I made very rapid progress at Doncaster.
Unfortunately an occasional injustice made it difficult to be so
grateful to him as we ought to have been. Here is an example. One
evening in the playground he told me to get on the back of another boy,
and then thrashed me with a switch from an apple-tree. I begged to be
told for what fault this punishment was inflicted, and the only answer
he condescended to give me was that a master owed no explanation to a
schoolboy. Down to the present time I have never been able to make out
what the punishment was for, and strongly suspect that it was simply to
exercise the usher's arm, which was a powerful one. He was a fair
cricketer, though rather too fat for that exercise, and a capital
swimmer, for which his fat was an advantage. He was an immoderate
snuff-taker. Sometimes he would lay a train of snuff on the back of his
hand and snuff it up greedily and voluptuously. In hot weather he
sometimes sat in his shirt-sleeves, and would occasionally amuse himself
by laying the snuff on his thick fat arm and then pass it all under his
nose, which drew it up as the pneumatic discharging machines drew grain
from the hold of a vessel. The odor of snuff was inseparable from his

On Sunday mornings we were made to read chapters in the Bible before
going to church, and the usher, who was preparing himself to enter Holy
Orders, would sometimes talk to us a little about theology. Once he said
that the establishment of religious toleration in England had been a
deplorable mistake, and that Dissent ought not to be permitted by the
Sovereign. This frank expression of perfect intolerance rather surprised
me even then, and I did not quite know whether it would be just to
extirpate Dissent or not. My principal feeling about the matter was the
prejudice inherited by young English gentlemen of old Tory families,
that Dissent was something indescribably low, and quite beneath the
attention of a gentleman. Still, to go farther and compel Dissenters by
force to attend the services of the Church of England did seem to me
rather hard, and on thinking over the matter seriously in my own mind, I
came to the conclusion that our usher must be wrong, unless Dissenters
were guilty of some crime I was not aware of; but this, after all,
seemed quite possible.

We were taken to the services in Doncaster old church, which was
destroyed by fire many years afterwards. Though not yet in my teens, I
had an intense delight in architecture, and deeply enjoyed the noble old
building, one of the finest of its class in England. Our pew was in the
west gallery, not far from the organ, and from it we had a good view of
the interior. The effect of the music was very strong upon me, as the
instrument was a fine one, and I was fully alive to the influence of
music and architecture in combination. The two arts go together far
better than architecture and painting; for music seems to make
architecture alive, as it rolls along the aisles and under the lofty
vaults. I well remember feeling, when some noble anthem was being
performed, as if the sculptured heads between the arches added a noble
animation to their serenity. Even now, the impression received in those
early days still remains in my memory with considerable clearness and
fidelity, and I believe that the habit of attending service in such a
beautiful church was a powerful stimulus to an inborn passion for

I had already taken lessons in drawing, of the kind which in those days
was thought suitable for boys who were not expected to be professional
artists, so the drawing-master at Doncaster had me amongst his pupils.
He was an elderly man, rather stout, and very respectable. His house was
extremely neat and tidy, with proper mahogany furniture, and no artistic
eccentricities of any kind whatever. He himself was always
irreproachably dressed, and he wore a large ruby ring on the little
finger of his left hand. To us boys he appeared to be a personage of
great dignity, but we were not afraid of him in spite of the dignity of
his manners, as he could not apply the cane. He was not unkind, yet in
all my life I never met with anybody concerned with the fine arts who
had so little sympathy, so little enthusiasm. On the whole, he was
distinctly gentle with me, but I made him angry twice. He had done me
the honor to promote me to water-color, and as I wanted a rag to wipe my
slab and brushes, I ventured to ask for one, on which he turned upon me
a glance of haughty surprise, and said, "Do you suppose, sir, that I can
undertake to supply you with rags?" This will give an idea of the
curiously unsympathetic nature of the man. On another occasion I was
drawing a house, or beginning to draw one, when the master came to look
over my shoulder and found great fault with me for beginning with the
upper part of the edifice. "What stonemason or bricklayer," said he,
"would think of building his chimney before he had laid the first row of
stones on the foundation?" A young pupil must not correct the bad
reasoning of his elders, but it seemed to me that the cases of a
bricklayer building a real house and an artist representing one on paper
were not precisely the same. Later in life I found that the best artists
brought their works forward as much as possible simultaneously,
sketching all the parts lightly at first, and keeping them all in the
same degree of finish till the end. [Footnote: The most rational way to
paint is first to paint all the large masses together, then the smaller
or secondary masses, and finally the details, bringing the picture
forward all together, as nearly as possible.]

Nevertheless, the drawing-lessons were always a delightful break in our
week's occupation, and I remember with pleasure the walk in the morning
down to the drawing-master's house, two days in the week, and the happy
hour of messing with water-color that followed it. In those days of
blissful ignorance I had, of course, no conception of the difficulties
of art, and was making that delusively rapid apparent progress which is
so very encouraging to all incipient amateurs. Not a single study of
those times remains in my portfolios to-day, and I know not what may
have become of them. This is the more to be regretted, that in the fine
weather our master took us into the fields round Doncaster and taught us
to sketch from nature, which we accomplished in a rudimentary way.

My dear, wise, and excellent guardian was always anxious that I should
receive as good an education as my opportunities would permit, so she
insisted on my learning French, and had herself taught me the elements
of that language, which she was able to read, though she did not pretend
to speak it. On going to Doncaster I found Latin and Greek so serious a
business that I wanted to lighten my burdens, and begged to be excused
from going on with French; but my guardian (who, with all her exquisite
gentleness, had a very strong will) would not hear of any such
abandonment, and wrote very determinedly on the subject both to me and
to Mr. Cape. It is extremely probable that this exercise of my
guardian's will may have had a great influence on my future life, as
without some early knowledge of French I might not have felt tempted to
pursue the study later, and if I had never spoken French my whole
existence would have been quite different.

Our French master at Doncaster was an Italian of good family named
Testa, one of the most perfect gentlemen I ever met, and an excellent
teacher. My deepest regret about him now is that I did not learn Italian
with him also, then or afterwards. [Footnote: It is astonishing how many
chances of improvement young men foolishly allow to slip by them. It
would have been quite worth while after I became a free agent to go and
spend six months or more at Doncaster, simply to read Italian with so
good a master as Testa.] I learned Italian later in life, and with a far
inferior master. Signor Testa was a tall, thin man, of rather cold and
stately manners, with a fine-looking, noble head covered with curly
brown hair. He was always exquisitely clean and orderly, both about his
person and the books and things that belonged to him in his rooms, where
there was an atmosphere of almost feminine refinement, though their
occupant was by no means effeminate in his thoughts or bearing. We
understood that he had left Italy in consequence of some political
difficulty, and we knew that he had still relations there. One day, as
we were engaged with our lesson at his lodgings, he took some leaves and
a faded flower or two that had just arrived in a letter from Italy, and
said, with tears in his eyes, "These have come from my father's place."
Now it so happened that the eldest boy in our class was liable to fits
of perfectly uncontrollable laughter (what the French call _le fou
rire_), and, as the reader is sure to know, if he has ever been troubled
with that disease himself, the fit very often comes on just at the
moment when the patient feels that he is called upon to look
particularly grave. This is what happened in the present case. Our
unlucky fellow-pupil was tickled with something in Testa's accent or
manner, or perhaps as he was an English boy the foreigner's tenderness
of feeling may have seemed to him absurd; but whatever may have been the
reason, his face became convulsed with suppressed laughter, which burst
forth at last uncontrollably. This made the rest of us laugh too--not at
poor Testa, but at our unworthy comrade. I shall never forget the
Italian gentleman's look on that occasion. His eyes were still brimming
with tears, but he laid down the flattened leaves and flowers and looked
at us all round with an expression that cut me, at least, to the quick.
"_Young gentlemen_," he said, "_I did not expect you to be so unkind_."
I longed to explain, but did not find words at the moment, and we went
on with our lesson. The fact was that Testa had not the least sense of
humor in his composition, and so he could not understand what had
happened. A humorous man, acquainted with the nature of boys, would have
understood the attack of _fou rire_, and forgiven it; but then a
humorous man would have thought twice before appealing to a set of
English boys for sympathy with the feelings of an exile. The incident
certainly increased my feelings of respect for Signor Testa, and made me
try to please him. The French lessons were very agreeable to me, and
besides duly preparing them, I read some French on my own account, and
acquired a liking for the language that has remained with me ever since.

If the reader has the sound old-fashioned notions about education by
which all subjects were strictly divided into the two classes of serious
and frivolous pursuits, he will already have suspicions about the
soundness of a training that included the two idle accomplishments of
Drawing and French, and what will he say, I wonder, when music is added
to the list? My initiation into music took place in the following
manner. We had a dancing-master who came regularly to Mr. Cape's house
to prepare us to shine in society, and his instrument was the convenient
dancing-master's pocket fiddle or kit. Although this instrument gives
forth but a feeble kind of music, I was far more enchanted with it than
by the dancing, and wrote a most persuasive letter to my good guardian
imploring her to let me study the violin. Those were the happy times
when one had energy for everything! I had already three languages on
hand, and the art of painting in water-colors, besides which I was in a
mathematical school where boys were prepared for Cambridge, [Footnote:
Doncaster School at that time was a sort of little nursery for
Cambridge. Mr. Cape was a Cambridge man, and so was his brother, the
able master of Peterborough School.] but there seemed to be no reason
why the art of violin-playing should not be added to these pursuits. My
guardian, before consenting, prudently wrote to Mr. Cape to ask if this
new accomplishment would not interfere too much with other matters, and
his answer was in these words: "The lad is getting on well enough with
his studies, so if he wants to amuse himself a little by scraping
catgut, even let him scrape away!" It will be seen that Mr. Cape did not
assign to music the high rank in education which has been attributed to
it by some famous thinkers in ancient and modern times. Few musical
sensations experienced during my whole life have equalled in intensity
the sensation of hearing our dancing-master play upon a full-sized
violin, after the weak and thin tones that our ears had been accustomed
to by his kit. I was so little in the way of hearing music at Doncaster
that the richer note of the violin seemed musical as the lyre of Apollo.
A contrast so striking made me more passionately eager to learn, but I
was informed by one of the private pupils who exercised considerable
authority over the younger boys, that although I might study the violin
with the dancing-master, I was never to practise it by myself. This
restriction was pardonable in one who might reasonably dread the
torturing attempts of a beginner, but it was certainly not favorable to
my progress. However, in course of time it came to be relaxed; that is,
as soon as I could play tunes.

It is very odd that any one who dislikes dancing as heartily as I have
always disliked it in manhood, should have been rather a brilliant
performer when a boy. Our dancing-master was extremely pleased with me,
and encouraged me by many compliments; nay, he even went so far as to
teach me a sailor's hornpipe, which I danced in public as a _pas seul_
when the school gave a theatrical entertainment on the approach of the
Christmas holidays. All this is simply inconceivable now, for there is
nothing which bores me so thoroughly as a ball, and I would at any time
travel fifty miles to avoid one.

At school the principal amusement was cricket, for which I soon acquired
an intense aversion. All games bore me except chess and billiards, and
it was especially hard to be compelled to field out to please the elder
boys, and so waste the precious holiday afternoons. Our cricket ground
was on the racecourse, and when I could get away I did so most joyfully,
and betook myself to a quiet place amongst the furze nearer to the Red
House than the Grand Stand. There my great delight was to read Scott's
poems, which I possessed in pocket volumes. The same volumes are in my
study now, and simply to handle them is enough to bring back many
sensations of long-past boyhood. Of all the influences that had sway
over me in those days and for long afterwards, the influence of Scott
was by far the strongest. A boy cannot make a better choice. Scott has
the immense advantage over dull authors of being almost always
interesting, and the equally great advantage over many exciting authors
that he never leaves an unhealthy feeling in the mind. I began with "The
Lady of the Lake," then read "Marmion," and "The Lay of the Last
Minstrel" and the Ballads, and finally "Rokeby." These were in separate
small volumes, which gave me a desire to possess other authors in the
same convenient form, so I added Goldsmith, Crabbe, Kirke White, and
Moore's "Irish Melodies." A prize for history gave me "Paradise Lost" in
two volumes of my favorite size, and two school-fellows, who saw that I
had a taste for such volumes, kindly gave me others. During the holidays
my guardian authorized the purchase of a Shakespeare in seven pocket
volumes, and the "Spectator" in eight, so I had quite a little library,
which became inexpressibly dear to me. It is very remarkable that for a
long time I knew Scott thoroughly as a poet without having read a single
novel by him. Having been invited by one of my school-fellows to a
country house not very far from Doncaster, I was asked by the lady of
the house what authors I had read, and on mentioning Scott's poems was
told that he was greater as a novelist than as a poet, and that the
Waverley novels were certainly his finest works. This seemed incredible
to me then, the poems being so delightful that they could not possibly
be surpassed. On another occasion I happened to be standing with Mr.
Cape in the little chapel at Conisborough Castle, and having heard from
an older school-fellow that Athelstane had died there, I asked Mr. Cape
if it was true. "Yes," he answered, "if you believe Sir Walter Scott."
Not having read "Ivanhoe," I was under the impression that the
Athelstane in question was an historical personage.

Nothing in the retrospect of life strikes me as more astonishing than
the rapid mental growth that must have taken place between the date of
my father's death and its second or third anniversary. When my father
died I was simply a child, though rather a precocious one, as the
journal in Wales testifies; but between two and three years after that
event the child had become a boy, with a keen taste for literature,
which, if it had been taken advantage of by his teachers, ought to have
made his education a more complete success than it ever became.

The misfortune was that the classics were not taught as literature at
all, but as exercises in grammar and prosody. They were dissected by
teachers who were simply lecturers on the science of language, and who
had not large views even about that. Our whole attention being directed
to the technicalities of the pedagogue, we did not perceive that the
classic authors had produced poems which, as literature, were not
inferior to those of our best English poets. So it happened that those
of us who had literary tastes were content to satisfy them in reading
English authors, and left them, as it were, at the door of the
classroom. I worked courageously enough at the Latin books which were
set before me, but never found the slightest enjoyment in them; indeed,
it was only much later, and through the medium of French and Italian,
that I gained some partial access to the literary beauty of Latin. As
for Greek, I began it vigorously at Doncaster, but I did not get beyond
the rudiments during my stay there.



Early attempts in English verse.--Advantages of life at Doncaster.--A
school incident.--Fagging.--Story of a dog.--Robbery.--My schoolfellow,
Henry Alexander.--His remarkable influence.--Other schoolfellows.
--Story of a boat.--A swimming adventure.--Our walks and battles.

The love of literature was naturally followed by some early attempts at
versification in English, which is generally looked upon as a silly
waste of time in a boy, though if he writes Latin verses, which we were
taught to do, he is thought to be seriously occupied. Prom the age of
eleven to that of twenty-one I wrote English verses very frequently, and
am now very glad I did so, being quite convinced that it was a most
profitable exercise in the language. My early verses were invariably
echoes of my dearly beloved Sir Walter Scott, a master whom it is not
very difficult to imitate so far as mere versification is concerned. One
little incident about this early verse-making is worth mentioning in
this place. I was staying for a few days with a school-fellow at a house
near Doncaster, when I dreamed a new ballad about a shipwreck, and on
awaking wrote it down at once. The thing would not be worth quoting, if
it were possible to remember it; but it was correct enough in rhymes and

My life at Doncaster was not on the whole unhappy, and the steady
discipline of the school was doing me much good. Mr. Cape was a very
severe master, and he used the cane very freely; but to a boy who had
lived under the tyranny of my father Mr. Cape's severity seemed a light
affliction. He kept up his dignity by seldom appearing in the
schoolroom; he sat in his library or in the dining-room in a large
morocco-covered arm-chair, holding a book in one hand whilst the other
was always ready to clasp the cane that he kept close by. Any failure of
memory would cause him to dart a severe look at the delinquent, a false
quantity made him scowl, and when he suspected real carelessness the
cane was resorted to at once. Unfortunately he could not apply it and
keep his temper at the same time. The exercise roused him to fury, and a
punishment which in his first intention was to have been mild became
cruel through the effect of his own rapidly increasing irritation. Mr.
Cape's health was not good, and no doubt this added to the natural
irritability of his temper. There was one unfortunate youngster whose
hands were covered with chilblains, and who was constantly displeasing
Mr. Cape by inattention or inaccuracy, so he incurred such perpetual
canings that his hands were pitiable to see, and must have been
extremely painful. Our head-master was no doubt laudably, or selfishly,
anxious that we should get on with our work so as to do him credit at
Cambridge, where most of us were expected to go; but he seemed almost
incapable of pity. I remember having the intense pleasure of playing him
a little trick just after he had been caning a lad who was a very good
friend of mine.

It happened in this way--but first I must describe the topography of the
place. Mr. Cape's house was a tall brick building that looked upon the
street on one side, and on our playground (which had formerly been a
garden) on the other. At the other end of the garden was a wash-house
with the schoolroom over it, and in the wash-house there was a large
copper for boiling linen. In the house the dining-room looked over the
play-ground, and it somehow happened (perhaps it was in the Easter
holidays) that there were no pupils left in the place but my friend
Brokenribs and I. [Footnote: We always called him Brokenribs, which
recalled his real name by a sort of imitation; besides which, though his
ribs had not actually been broken, he had suffered from a good many
bruises.] Mr. Cape called him up into the dining-room after dark, and
began to thrash him. Brokenribs, after some time, began to think that a
sufficient number of strokes had been administered, and put the
dining-table between himself and his adversary, who could not get at him
any longer. I was in the playground, and understood all that was passing
by the shadows on the window-blinds.

It was most amusing to me, as a spectator, to see the shadow of
Brokenribs flit rapidly past, and still better perhaps to see it
followed by that of Mr. Cape, with bald head and uplifted cane. When
this entertainment had lasted some time I heard a great banging of doors,
and Brokenribs issued from the house, rushing like a hunted deer the whole
length of the playground. "Cape's after me!" he said. "Where shall I hide?"
"In the copper!" I answered with a sudden inspiration, and ran into the
wash-house with him, where I lifted the lid and stowed him away in
safety. The lid had but just been replaced when Mr. Cape appeared in the
playground and asked if I had seen Brokenribs. "Yes, sir, certainly; he
was running this way, sir." I accompanied Mr. Cape into the wash-house,
which had an outer door giving access to a lane, and observed with
pleasure that he was forced to the irresistible conclusion that
Brokenribs had taken flight. The lad's parents lived at an accessible
distance (perhaps twenty miles), so Mr. Cape was tormented with the
unpleasant idea that the lad had gone home to tell his own story. He
therefore ordered a gig and drove off so as to catch Brokenribs during
his flight. As my friend had been sitting in cold water, I got him out
when the coast was clear, and made him go to bed, where the housekeeper
sent him a treacle posset. After driving many a mile in vain, Mr. Cape
returned very late, and never said a word on the subject to either of

Poor Brokenribs was not only very often caned, but he was fag to a
tyrannical private pupil, who made him suffer severely. The private
pupils upheld the sacred institution of fagging, which gave them a
pleasant sense of authority, and as they sat like gods above us, they
were not in danger of retaliation. Brokenribs was fag to a young man who
determined that he should learn two things,--first, to endure pain
without flinching, and secondly, to smoke tobacco. To achieve the first
of these great purposes, he used to twist the lad's arms and administer
a certain number of hard blows upon them. This he did every day so long
as the whim lasted. As for the smoking, poor Brokenribs had to smoke a
certain number of pipes every day. A single pipe made him look ghastly,
and the whole series made him dreadfully ill. I remember his white face
at such times; but he attained his reward in becoming an accomplished
and precocious smoker.

I was fag myself at one time to a private pupil; but he was not very
tyrannical with me, and only ordered me to light fires, which was a
valuable element in my education.

It gives one a fine independence of servants to be able to light a fire
quickly and well. This accomplishment enables a man to get up as early
he chooses, even in winter, and I have never forgotten it; indeed, I
lighted a fire an hour before writing this page. In my opinion, it would
be wise to teach every boy the art of doing without servants on

The private pupils exercised authority in other ways than by converting
us into fags. It so happened that I became possessor of an unfortunate
tawny dog. How one boy should be owner of a dog at school when the
others had nothing to do with him may be difficult to understand; and
indeed my ownership did not last for very long, but it was pleasant to
me whilst it lasted. The poor beast, if I remember rightly, belonged to
somebody who did not want him, and was going to have him slain. I had
always an intense affection for dogs, and begged Mr. Cape to let me keep
this one, promising that it should not be a nuisance. I was rather a
favorite with the head-master, so he granted this very extraordinary
request, and it was understood that the dog was to lodge in a box in the
wash-house. I bought some fresh straw for him, and took the greatest
care of him, so that he soon became strongly attached to me. Had there
been no private pupils the creature would have been safe enough, as I
would have fought any lad of my own age in his behalf, and Brokenribs,
who was older, would have fought the bigger boys; but we none of us
dared to resist the privates, who were grown men. One of the privates
thought that a small boy ought not to possess a dog, and began to affirm
that the animal was a nuisance. He then said it would be an improvement
to cut off its tail, which he did accordingly, in spite of all my
remonstrances. I pitied the poor beast when it lay suffering with its
bleeding stump, and did all that affection could suggest for its
consolation; but shortly afterwards the same private pupil, who had a
taste for pistol-shooting, thought it would be good fun to shoot at a
living target, so he took my dog away into a field and shot him there. I
knew what he was going to do, but had no power to prevent it, as he had
begun by persuading Mr. Cape that the poor beast was a nuisance, which
he certainly was not. He was a very quiet, timid dog, of an anxious,
apprehensive temperament, having probably never had reason to place much
trust in the human species.

There was one lad at the school who was a coarse bully, and I remember
his playing a trick on me which was nothing less than pure brigandage.
He ordered me to give him my keys, and rummaged in my private box. He
found a small telescope in it which was to his liking, and took it. I
never got any redress about that telescope, as the bully coolly said it
had always belonged to him, and he was powerful enough to act on the
great principle that _la force prime le droit_.

It is most astonishing how some boys gain a great ascendency over others
when there seems to be no substantial reason for it. One of my
school-fellows, who was cousin to some of my cousins, and bore my
surname as one of his Christian names, had quite a remarkable ascendency
over boys, and yet he had not the physical size and strength which
usually impose upon them. He was slight and small, though he had a
handsome face; but he had an aristocratic temperament, which inspired a
sort of respect, and a governing disposition, which made other boys
yield to him. Nothing was more curious than to see how completely the
bully effaced himself before that young gentleman's superiority. The
bully was also a snob, and probably believed that Henry Alexander
belonged to the highest aristocracy. He was well descended and well
connected (there was an abeyant peerage in his family), but in point of
fact, his social position was not better than that of some other boys in
the school. I remember well the intense astonishment of the bully when
he found out one day that Alexander bore my name as a Christian name,
and learned the reason.

Alexander was a perfect little dandy, being at all times exceptionally
well dressed for a schoolboy, and on Sundays he came out with remarkable
splendor. In spring and summer he wore a jacket and trousers of the most
fashionable cut and of the very finest blue cloth, with a gloss upon it,
and a white waistcoat adorned with a bunch of valuable trinkets to his

His hat, his gloves, his wonderfully small boots, were all the pink of
perfection. He smoked very good cigars, and talked about life with an
air of the most consummate experience, that gained him profound respect.
Most boys hesitate about the choice of a profession, but Alexander had
no such indecision. He had made up his mind to be an officer, with his
father's consent, and guided by a sure instinct, as he had exactly the
qualities to make himself respected in a regiment. It does a young
officer no harm to be rather a dandy and to shine in society, whilst the
extreme decision and promptitude of Alexander's peremptory will, and the
natural ease with which he assumed authority, would be most useful in
command. A few years later he joined the 64th Regiment and went to
India, where in spite of his rather delicate frame he became an active
sportsman. One day, however, the surgeon of the regiment saw him by
accident in his bath, and declared that he was too thin to be well, so
he examined him, and found that consumption had begun. Alexander
returned to England, where he lingered a few months, and then died. He
came to see me not very long before his death, not looking nearly so ill
as I had expected, but the doctor knew best. With better health he might
have had a brilliant career, and was certain, at least, to be an
efficient and popular officer, with the right degree of love for his

Another of my fellow-pupils who died early was the eldest son and heir
of a country squire, and one of the handsomest and most able young men I
ever met. He was a private pupil, yet not at all disliked by the younger
boys, as he was always kind and friendly towards us. There was a project
for his going out to India, and he talked over the matter with his
father one evening at his own home. A dispute arose between father and
son as they sat talking late, and when they separated for the night they
were not on good terms. The next morning the young gentleman was found
dead in bed under circumstances which led to a very strong suspicion of
suicide. We were all deeply grieved by his death, as he seemed to have
the best gifts of Nature, and life was opening so brightly before him;
but he had a very high spirit, and if he really did commit suicide,
which is not improbable, it is very likely that his pride had been
wounded. Whenever I read in the poets or elsewhere of gifted young men
who have ended sadly and prematurely, his image rises before me, though
it is now forty years since we met. Poor Brokenribs is gone too, though
he lived long enough to be a clergyman for some years. He was a
thoroughly good fellow, bearing all his hardships with admirable

Before quitting the history of my school-days, I ought, perhaps, to tell
the story of a great swimming exploit whereof I was the hero. The
reader, after this expression, will count upon some display of prowess
and of vanity at the same time, but there is neither in this case.

After I had been at Doncaster about a year, one of the private pupils
came to me one day with a pencil and a piece of paper in his hand, and
said, "We are going to buy a boat at Cambridge; will you subscribe?" Now
it so happened that I was born a boating creature, just as decidedly as
I was _not_ born to be a cricketing creature, and such a question
addressed to me was much as if one said to a young duck, "Would you like
to go on the pond, or would you prefer being shut up in a cage?" Of
course I said "yes" at once, and wrote an artful letter to my dear
guardian begging for the four guineas which were to constitute me a
shareholder in the expected vessel.

The future captain of the boat took my money very readily when it came,
and nobody could have felt more certain of a boating career than I did;
but just before the arrival of the vessel itself, it occurred to Mr.
Cape (rather late in the day) that he would take a prudent precaution,
so he issued a ukase to the effect that none but good swimmers were to
make any use of the boat. Now I had often heard, and read too in books,
that man was naturally a swimming animal, and that any one who was
thrown into water would swim if only he was not afraid, so I said
inwardly, "It is true that I never _did_ swim, but that is probably
because I have only bathed in shallow water; I have courage enough, and
if they pitch me into the river Don, most probably I shall swim, as man
is naturally a swimming animal and fear is the only impediment." One day
at dinner Mr. Cape asked all the subscribers, one after another, if they
could swim. There was a boy of about fourteen who was a splendid
swimmer, and well known for such both to the masters and his
school-fellows, but Mr. Cape did not omit him, and I envied the simple
ease of his "Yes, sir." When it came to me, I too said "Yes, sir,"
affecting the same ease, and Mr. Cape looked at me, and the
assistant-master looked at me, and every one of the fellows looked at
me, and then a slight smile was visible on all their countenances. After
dinner the fine swimmer expressed his regret that he had not known
sooner about my possession of this accomplishment, as we might have
enjoyed it together in the Don. The next Saturday afternoon was fine, so
the swimmers went to the river with the assistant-master, and I was very
politely invited to accompany them. On this an older boy, who had always
been kind to me, said privately, "You can't swim, I know you can't, and
you'd better confess it, for if you don't, you run a good chance of
being drowned this afternoon; the water is thirty feet deep." I
answered, with cold thanks, that my friend's apprehensions were
groundless; and we set off.

On our way to the river the unpleasant reflection occurred to my mind,
that possibly the books and the people might be wrong, and that mere
courage might _not_ enable me to dispense with acquired skill.
[Footnote: The doctrine that courage is enough is most mischievous and
perilous nonsense. I have become a good swimmer since those days, and
have taught my sons: but we had to learn it as an art, just as one
learns to skate.] But I put away this idea as too disagreeable to be
dwelt upon. Unfortunately the disagreeable idea that we set aside is
often the true and the wise one.

As we went through the town to the water the boy who had expressed his
scepticism disappeared for a moment in a rope-maker's shop, and soon
emerged with a long and strong cord over his shoulder. I guessed what
that was for, and felt humiliated, but said nothing. The swimmers
stripped and plunged, but just at the moment when I was going to plunge
too I felt the strong hand of the assistant-master on my shoulder, and
he said, "Wait one moment," The moment was employed by my school-fellow
in fastening the cord round my waist, "Now, plunge as much as you like!"

I was soon in the depths and struggling to get to the surface, but,
somehow, did _not_ swim. My preserver on the bank thought it would be as
well to convince me of my inability by a prolonged immersion, so he let
me feel the unpleasant beginning of drowning. They say that the
sensation is delightful at a later stage, and that the patient dreams he
is walking in flowery meadows on the land. The first stage is
undoubtedly disagreeable,--the oppression, the desire to breathe, are
horrible,--but I did not get so far as to fill the lungs with water.
Just in proper time there came a great tug at the cord, and I was fished
up. I dressed, and felt very small, looking with envy on the real
swimmers, and especially at the fat usher, who was rolling about like a
porpoise in the middle of the river.

The boat came, and I was allowed only to see her from the bank. How
lovely she looked with her outside varnish and her internal coat of
Cambridge blue! How beautiful were the light and elegant oars that I was
forbidden to touch!

Some time after that one of my school-fellows said: "You know, Hamerton,
you're just as well out of that boat as in her, for whenever we want to
go out on Wednesday or Saturday afternoons we always find that the
privates have got the start of us. The fact is, the boat is as if she
belonged to them." In a word, the private pupils looked on the
aspirations of the others with marked disapproval. There ought, of
course, to have been a plurality of boats; but Mr. Cape was not himself
a boating man, and did not encourage the amusement. He dreaded the
responsibility for accidents.

One result of my adventure was a firm resolution that I would learn to
swim, and not only that, but become really a good swimmer. I never
attempted anything that seemed so hopelessly difficult for me, or in
which my progress was so slow; but in course of time I did swim, and
many years afterwards, from daily practice in the longer and warmer
summers of France, I became an expert, able to read a book aloud in deep
water whilst holding it up with both hands, or to swim with all my
clothes on and a pair of heavy boots, using one hand only and carrying a
paddle in the other, whilst I drew a small boat after me. The
perseverance that led to this ultimate result is entirely due to that
early misadventure at Doncaster. I have learned one or two other things
in consequence of being stung with shame in a like manner, and am
convinced that there is nothing better for a boy than to be roused to
perseverance in that way.

I never felt the least shame, however, in not being able to play cricket
in a manner to please connoisseurs. I hated the game from the very
beginning, and it was pure slavery to me, and I never had the faintest
desire to excel in it or even to learn it. This dislike was a
misfortune, as not to love cricket is a cause of isolation for an
English boy.

A kind of exercise that I was fond of was ordinary walking. We often
took long walks on half-holidays that were delightful, and I have
escaped very early on the summer mornings and taken a walk round the
race-course, being back in time for the usual hour of rising. This,
however, was found out in course of time and put an end to; but I had
occasional headaches, so the doctor (who was a very kind friend of mine
and invited me to his house) told Mr. Cape that he must send me out for
a walk when I had a headache. "But how am I to know that his head really
aches?" inquired the head-master. I heard the reply and took note of it.
The doctor said it would usually be accompanied with flushing; so
whenever I thought I was sufficiently red in the face I applied for
leave to go to the race-course.

The doctor had a son who was a good-natured, pleasant boy about my own
age. There never was the slightest ill-feeling between us, but quite the
contrary; and yet we fought many a hard battle simply because the elder
boys backed us and set us on. They enjoyed the sport as they would have
enjoyed cock-fighting, though perhaps not quite so much, as it was not
quite so bloody and barbarous. This fighting was of no practical use;
but if I had been able to thrash the bully who took my telescope _that_
would have been of some use. Unfortunately he was my senior, and
considerably my superior in strength, so prudence forbade the combat.



Early interest in theology.--Reports of sermons.--Quiet influence of Mr.
Cape.--Failure of Mr. Cape's health.--His death.

During the time of my life at Doncaster I was extremely religious,
having a firm belief in providential interferences on my behalf, even in
trifling matters, such as being asked to stay from Saturday to Monday in
the country. My prayers had especial reference to a country house that
belonged to an old lady who was grandmother to a friend of mine, and
extended a sort of grandmotherly kindness to myself also. [Footnote: She
was a very remarkable and peculiar old lady. The house was very large;
but she would only use a few small rooms. She never would travel by
railway, but made long journeys, as well as short ones, in an old
carriage drawn by a pair of farm-horses. She had a much handsomer
carriage in the coach-house, a state affair, that was never used.]

At Doncaster we were always obliged to take notes of the sermons, and
write them out afterwards in an abridged form. As I had a theological
turn, I sometimes inserted passages of my own in these reports which
made the masters declare that they did not remember hearing the preacher
say that; and on one occasion, being full of ideas of my own about the
text which had effectually supplanted those of the preacher, I produced
a complete original sermon, which cost me a reprimand, but evidently
excited the interest of the master. Dr. Sharpe was Vicar of Doncaster in
those days, but after forty years I may be excused if I do not remember
much about what he preached. The pulpit was arranged in the
old-fashioned three stages, for preacher, reader, and clerk, and on one
occasion the highest of these was occupied by the famous Dr. Wolff, the
missionary to Bokhara. He was a most energetic preacher, who thumped and
pushed his cushion in a restless way, so that at last he fairly pushed
it off its desk. He was quick enough to catch it by the tassel, but he
did not catch his Bible, which fell on Dr. Sharpe's head or shoulder,
and thence to the floor of the church. It was impossible to keep quite
grave under the circumstances. Even the clergy smiled, the clerk sought
refuge in fetching the fallen volume, and a thrill of humorous feeling
ran through the congregation.

Mr. Cape did not say much to us about religion. He read prayers every
morning and evening, and once or twice I heard him preach when he took
duty in a village church not far from the famous castle of Conisborough.
There is an advantage to an active-minded boy in being with a quiet
routine-clergyman like Mr. Cape, who proposes no exciting questions. I
came under a very different influence afterwards, which plunged me into
the stormy ocean of theological controversies at a time of life when it
would have been better for me not to concern myself about such matters.
The religion of a boy should be quiet and practical, and his theology
should be as simple as possible, and quite uncontroversial in its
temper. That was my case at Doncaster; I was a very firm believer, but
simply a Christian not belonging to any party in the Church of England,
and hardly, indeed, in any but an accidental way to the Church of
England herself. Nothing could have been better. A boy is not answerable
for the doctrines which are imposed upon him by his elders, and if they
have a beneficial effect upon his conduct he need not, whilst he remains
a boy, trouble himself to inquire further.

Mr. Cape's health was gradually failing during the time of my stay at
Doncaster School, and on the beginning of my fourth half-year after a
holiday I found the house managed by his sister, and Mr. Cape himself
confined to his room with hopeless disease. Very shortly afterwards the
few boys who had come were sent home again, and Mr. Cape died. His
sister was a kind old maid, who at once conceived a sort of aunt-like
affection for me, and I remember that when I left she gave me a kiss on
the forehead. I was grieved to part with her, and showed some real
sympathy with her sorrow about her dying brother. I felt some grief on
my own account for Mr. Cape, though he had thrashed me many a time with
his ever-ready cane. Altogether the three half-years at Doncaster had
been well spent, and I had got well on with my work.

Mr. Cape's brother kept a good school at Peterborough, and wanted to
have me for a pupil, but as he was especially strong in mathematics, and
prepared young men for Cambridge, it was thought that, as I was to go to
Oxford, it would be better that I should study under an Oxford man. I
never had the slightest natural bent for mathematics, though I did the
tasks that were imposed upon me in a perfunctory manner, and with
sufficient accuracy just to satisfy my masters.



My education becomes less satisfactory.--My guardian's state of health.
--I pursue my studies at Burnley.--Dr. Butler.--He encourages me to
write English.--Extract from a prize poem.--Public discussions in
Burnley School.--A debate on Queen Elizabeth.

The story of my education becomes less satisfactory for me to write as I
proceed with it. At thirteen I was a well-educated boy for my age, at
fifteen or sixteen I had fallen behind, and if I have now any claim to
be considered a fairly well-educated man, it is due to efforts made
since youth was past.

The main cause of this retardation may be told before proceeding
further. I have already said what a strong affection I had for my
guardian. It was a well-placed affection, as she was one of the noblest
and best women who ever lived, and all my gratitude to her, though it
filled my heart like a religion, was not half what she deserved or what
my maturer judgment now feels towards her memory; but like all strong
affections, it carried its own penalty along with it. About the time of
Mr. Cape's death, I happened to be staying with some near relations, and
one of them made a casual allusion to my guardian's heart-disease. I had
never heard of this, and was inexpressibly affected by the news. My
informant said that the disease was absolutely incurable, and might at
any time cause sudden death. This was unhappily the exact truth, and
from that moment I looked upon my dear guardian with other eyes. The
doctors could not say how long she might live; there was no especial
immediate danger, and with care, by incurring no risks, her life might
be prolonged for years. After the first shock produced by this terrible
news, I quickly resolved that as Death would probably soon separate us,
and might separate us at any moment, I would keep as much as possible
near my guardian during her life. She may have been tempted to keep me
near her by the same consideration, but she was not a woman to allow her
feelings to get the better of her sense of duty, and if I had not
persistently done all in my power to remain at Burnley, she would have
sent me elsewhere. Some reviewer will say that these are trifling
matters, but in writing a biography it is necessary to take note of
trifles when they affect the whole future existence of the subject. The
simple fact of my remaining at Burnley for some years made me turn out
an indifferent classical scholar, but at the time left my mind more at
liberty to grow in its own way.

It is time to give some account of Dr. Butler, the headmaster of Burnley
Grammar School, who now became my master, and some time afterwards my
private tutor. He was a most liberal-minded, kind-hearted clergyman, and
a good scholar, but his too great tenderness of heart made him not
exactly the kind of master who would have pushed me on most rapidly.

I had a great affection for him, which he could not help perceiving, and
this completely disarmed him, so that he never could find in his heart
to say anything disagreeable to me, and on the contrary would often
caress me, as it were, with little compliments that I did not always
deserve. One tendency of his exactly fell in with my own tastes. He did
not think that education should be confined to the two dead languages,
but incited the boys to learn French and German, and even chemistry. I
worked at French regularly; German I learned just enough to read one
thin volume, and went no further. [Footnote: I resumed German many years
afterwards, and had a Bavarian for my master; but he was unfortunately
obliged to go back to his own country, and I stopped again, having many
other things to do. All my literary friends who know German say it is of
great use to them; but I never felt the natural taste for it that I have
for French and Italian.] As for the chemistry, I acquired some
elementary knowledge which afterwards had some influence in directing my
attention to etching; indeed, I etched my first plate when a boy at
Burnley School. It was a portrait of a Jew with a turban, and was
frightfully over-bitten.

Mr. Butler (he had not received his D.C.L. degree in those days) was a
very handsome man, with most gentlemanly manners, and all the boys
respected him. He governed the school far more by his own dignity than
by any severity of tone. He always wore his gown in school, and had a
desk made for himself which rather resembled a pulpit and was ornamented
with two carved crockets, that of the assistant-master (who also wore
his gown) being destitute of these ornaments. My progress in classics
and mathematics was now not nearly so rapid as it had been under the
severer _régime_ at Doncaster, but Mr. Butler thought he discovered in
me some sort of literary gift, and encouraged me to write English
essays, which he corrected carefully to show me my faults of style. This
was really good, as Mr. Butler wrote English well himself, and was a man
of cultivated taste. He even encouraged me to write verses,--a practice
that I followed almost without intermission between the ages of twelve
and twenty-one. I am aware that there are many very wise people in the
world who think it quite rational, and laudable even, to write verses in
the Latin language to improve their knowledge of that tongue, and who
think it is a ridiculous waste of time to do the same thing in English.
In my opinion, what holds good for one language holds good equally for
another, and I no more regret the time spent on English versification
than a Latin scholar would regret his imitations of Virgil. Perhaps the
reader may like to see a specimen of my boyish attempts, so I will print
an extract from one,--a poem that won a prize at Burnley School in the
year 1847.

The subject given us was "Prince Charles Edward after the Battle of
Culloden." The poem begins with a wild galloping flight of the Prince
from the battlefield of Culloden under the pale moonlight, and then of
course we come to the boat voyage with Flora Macdonald. Here my love of
boating comes in.

  The lovely lamp of Heaven shines brightly o'er
  The wave cerulean and the yellow shore;
  As, o'er those waves, a boat like light'ning flies,
  Slender, and frail in form, and small in size.
  --Frail though it be, 'tis manned by hearts as brave
  As e'er have tracked the pathless ocean's wave,--
  High o'er their heads celestial diamonds grace
  The jewelled robe of night, and Luna's face
  Divinely fair! O goddess of the night!
  Guide thou their bark, do thou their pathway light!
  --Like sea-bird rising on the ocean's foam,
  Or like the petrel on its stormy home,
  Yon gallant bark speeds joyously along;
  The wild waves roar, and drown the boatmen's song.
  The sails full-flowing kiss the welcome wind,
  And leave the screaming sea-gulls far behind!
  Onward they fly. 'Tis midnight's moonlit hour!
  When Fairies hold their court and Sprites have power.
  And now 'tis morn! A fair Isle's distant strand
  Tempts the tired fugitives again to land.
  Fiercely repulsed, they dare once more the wave
  Fired with undying zeal their Prince to save;
  And when night flings her sable mantle o'er
  The giant crags where sea-hawks idly soar,
  They unmolested gain the wished-for land,
  And soon with rapid steps bestride the strand.
  To Kingsburgh's noble halls the path they gain
  And leave afar the ever-murmuring main.

[Footnote: In the printed copies of the poem, the age of the writer was
given as thirteen, but I was only in my thirteenth year.]

Very likely this extract will be as much as the reader will have
patience for. I think the verses are tolerably good for a boy not yet
thirteen years old. The versification is, perhaps, as correct as that of
most prize poems, and there is some go in the poetry. It cannot,
however, lay claim to much originality. Even in the short extract just
given I see the influence of three poets, Virgil, Scott, and Byron. The
best that can be expected from the poetry of a boy is that he should
give evidence of a liking for the great masters, and in my case the
liking was sincere.

In later years Mr. Butler made me translate many of the Odes of Horace
into English verse. I did that work with pleasure, but have not
preserved one of the translations. I have said that he also encouraged
me to write essays. He always gave the subject, and criticized my
performance very closely. I wrote so many of these essays that I am
afraid to give the number that remains in my memory, for fear of
unconscious exaggeration.

Besides these exercises we had public discussions in the school on
historical subjects, and of these I remember a great one on the
character of Queen Elizabeth. I was chosen for the defence, and the
attack on Elizabeth's fame was to be made by the Captain of the school,
a lad of remarkable ability named Edward Moore, who was greatly my
superior in acquirements.

It happened, I remember, that my guardian was staying at a country house
(the Holme), which had formerly belonged to Dr. Whitaker, the celebrated
historian of Craven, Whalley, and Richmondshire, and this learned man
had left a good library, so I went to stay a few days to read up the
subject. Those days were very pleasant to me; the house is very
beautiful, with carved oak, tapestry, mullioned windows, old portraits,
and stained glass, and just the old-world surroundings that I have
always loved, and it nestled quietly in an open space in the bottom of a
beautiful valley, between steep hills, with miles of walks in the woods.
If ever I have been in danger of coveting my neighbor's house, it has
been there.

When we came to the debate, it turned out that my materials were so
abundant that I spoke for an hour and a half; Moore spoke about forty
minutes, and made a most telling personal hit when attacking Elizabeth
for her vanity. "She was vain of her complexion, vain even of her hair"
... (here the orator paused and looked at me, then he added, slowly and
significantly), "_which was red_." The point here was, that my hair was
red in those days, though it has darkened since. I need not add that the
allusion was understood at once by the whole school, and was immensely

After we had spoken, a youth rose to give his opinion, and as his speech
was sufficiently laconic, I will repeat it _in extenso_. The effect
would be quite spoiled if I did not add that he was suffering from a
very bad cold, which played sad havoc with his consonants. This was his
speech, without the slightest curtailment:--

"Id by opidiod Queed Elizabeth was to be blabed, because she was a proud

My opponent in the debate on Elizabeth was, I believe, all things taken
into consideration, the most gifted youth I ever knew during my boyhood.
He kept at the head of the school without effort, as if the post
belonged to him, and he was remarkable for bodily activity, being the
best swimmer in the school, and, I think, the best cricketer also. He
afterwards died prematurely, and his brother died in early manhood from
exhausting fatigue during an excursion in the Alps.

The school was in those days attended by lads belonging to all classes
of society, except the highest aristocracy of the neighborhood, and it
did a good deal towards keeping up a friendly feeling between different
classes. That is the great use of a good local school. Many of the boys
were the sons of rich men, who could easily have sent them to public
schools at a distance, and perhaps in the present generation they would
do so.



My elder uncle.--We go to live at Hollins.--Description of the place.--
My strong attachment to it.--My first experiment in art-criticism.--The
stream at Hollins.--My first catamaran.--Similarity of my life at
Hollins to my life in France thirty-six years later.

My elder uncle, the owner of my grandfather's house and estate at
Hollins, had been educated to the law, as the income of our branch of
the family was insufficient, and he had begun to practise as a solicitor
in Burnley, where at that time there was an excellent opening; but he
had not the kind of tact which enables lawyers to get on in the world,
so his professional income diminished, and he went to live in Halifax,
and let the house at Hollins.

His family was large, and for some years he did all in his power to live
according to his rank in society, for he had married a lady of good
family (they had thirty-six quarterings between them), and, like most
men in a similar position, he was unwilling to adopt the only safe plan,
which is to take boldly a lower place on the ladder. At Halifax he lived
in a large house (Hopwood Hall), which belonged to his father-in-law,
and there his wife and he received the Halifax society of those days, at
what, I believe, were very pleasant entertainments, for they had the
natural gift of hospitality, and lacked nothing but a large fortune to
be perfect in the eyes of the world.

My uncle's father-in-law was living in retirement at Scarborough when
Hollins happened to fall vacant, so he became the tenant; but as the
house was too large for him, my uncle divided it into two, and proposed
to let the other half to my guardian and her sister.

They accepted, and the consequence was that we went to live in the
country,--a most important change for me, as I soon acquired that
passion for a country life which afterwards became a second nature, and
which, though it may have been beneficial to my health, and perhaps in
some degree to the quality of my work, has been in many ways an all but
fatal hindrance to my success.

There are, or were, a great many old halls in Lancashire that belonged
to the old families, which have now for the most part disappeared. They
were of all sizes, some large enough to accommodate a wealthy modern
country gentleman (though not arranged according to modern ideas), and
others of quite small dimensions, though generally interesting for their
architecture,--much more interesting, indeed, than the houses which have
succeeded them. Hollins was between the two extremes, and when in its
perfection, must have been rather a good specimen, with its mullioned
windows, its numerous gables, and its formal front garden, with a
straight avenue beyond. Unfortunately, my grandfather found it necessary
to rebuild the front, and in doing so altered the character by
introducing modern sash windows in the upper story; and though he
retained mullioned windows on the ground floor, they were not strictly
of the old type. My uncle also carried out other alterations, external
and internal, which ended by depriving the house of much of its old
character, and still more recent changes have gone farther in the same

However, such as it was in my youth, the place inspired in me one of
those intensely strong local attachments which take root in some
natures, and in none, I really believe, more powerfully than in mine.
Like all strong passions, these local attachments are extremely
inconvenient, and it would be better for a man to be without them; but
all reasoning on such subjects is superfluous.

Hollins is situated in the middle of a small but very pretty estate,
almost entirely bounded by a rocky and picturesque trout-stream, and so
pleasantly varied by hill and dale, wood, meadow, and pasture, that it
appears much larger than it really is. In my boyhood it seemed an
immensity. My cousins and I used to roam about it and play at Robin Hood
and his merry men with great satisfaction to ourselves. We fished and
bathed in one of the pools, where our ships delivered real broadsides of
lead from their little cannons. These boyish recollections, and an early
passion for landscape beauty, made Hollins seem a kind of earthly
Paradise to me, and the idea of going to live there, instead of in a row
of houses in a manufacturing town, filled me with the most delightful
anticipations. My uncle put workmen in the house to prepare it, and on
every opportunity I walked there to see what they were doing. Even at
that age I knew much more about architecture than my elders, being
perfectly familiar with the details of the old halls, and so I was
constantly losing temper at what seemed to me the evident stupidity of
the masons. There was an old master-mason, who did not like me and my
criticisms, and he swore at me freely enough, in an explicit Lancashire
manner. One day, simply by the eye, I perceived that he was four inches
out in a measurement, and told him of it, when he swore frightfully. He
then took his two-foot rule, and finding himself in the wrong, swore
more frightfully than ever. This was my first experience in the
thankless business of art-criticism, and it was the beginning of a false
position, in which I often found myself in youth, from knowing more
about some subjects than is usual with boys.

The small estate on which Hollins is situated is divided from Towneley
Park by a road and a wall, and on the opposite side its boundary, for
most of the distance, is the rocky stream that has been already
mentioned. The stream had a great influence on my whole life, by giving
me a taste for the beauty of wild streams in Scotland and elsewhere. It
is called the Brun, and gives its name to Burnley. The rocks are a
sandstone sufficiently warm in color to give a very pleasant contrast to
the green foliage, and the forms of them are so broken that in sunshine
there are plenty of fine accidental lights and shadows. It was one of my
greatest pleasures to follow the course of this stream, with a
leaping-pole, up to the moors, where it flowed through a wide and
desolate valley or hollow in the hills. As the aspect of a stream is
continually changing with the seasons and the quantity of water, it is
always new. The only regret I have about my residence near the Brun is
that I did not learn at the right time to make the most of it in the way
of artistic study; but I did as much, perhaps, as was to be expected
from a boy who was receiving a literary and not an artistic education.

The defect of the Brun was the absence of pools big enough for swimming
and boating, but it gave a tantalizing desire for these pleasures, and I
was as aquatic as my opportunities would allow. In June, 1850, my first
catamaran was launched on a fish-pond. I built it myself, with an outlay
of one pound for the materials. It was composed of two floats or tubes,
consisting of a light framework of deal covered with waterproofed
canvas. These were kept apart in the water, but joined above by a light
open framework that served as a deck, and on which the passengers sat.
The thing would carry five people, and was propelled by short oars.
Being extremely light, it was easily drawn on a road, and was provided
with small wheels for that purpose. This boyish attempt would not have
been mentioned had it not been the first of a long series of practical
experiments in the construction of catamarans which have continued down
to the date of the present writing, and of which the reader will hear
more in the sequel. I promise to endeavor not to weary him with the

It is astonishing how very far-reaching in their effects are the tastes
and habits that we acquire in early life! The sort of existence that I
am leading here at Pré Charmoy, near Autun, in this year 1886, bears a
wonderfully close resemblance to my existence at Hollins in 1850. I am
living, as I was then, on a pretty estate with woods, meadows, pastures,
and a beautiful stream, with hills visible from it in all directions.
There is a fish-pond too, about a mile from the house, and I am even now
trying catamaran experiments on this pond, as I did on the other in
Lancashire. My occupations are exactly the same, and to complete the
resemblance it so happens that just now I am reading Latin. The chief
difference is that writing has become lucrative and professional,
whereas in those earlier days it was a study only.

It is very difficult for me to believe that thirty-six years separate me
from a time so like the present in many ways--like and yet unlike,--for
I was then in Lancashire and am now in France; but this is a fact that I
only realize when I think about it. The real exile for me would be to
live in a large town.



Interest in the Middle Ages.--Indifference to the Greeks and Romans.--
Love for Sir Walter Scott's writings.--Interest in heraldry and
illuminations.--Passion for hawking.--Old books in the school library
at Burnley.--Mr. Edward Alexander of Halifax.--Attempts in literary
composition.--Contributions to the "Historic Times."--"Rome in
1849."--"Observations on Heraldry."

The last chapter ended by saying that my occupations in early life were
the same as they are at present, but I now remember one or two points of
difference. In those days I lived, mentally, a great deal in the Middle
Ages. This was owing to the influence of Sir Walter Scott, certainly of
all authors the one who has most influenced me, and it was also due in
some measure to a romantic interest in the history of my own family, and
of the other families in the north of England with which mine had been
connected in the past. For the Greeks and Romans I cared very little;
they seemed too remote from my own country and race, and the English
present, in which my lot was cast, seemed too dull and un-picturesque,
too prosaic and commonplace. My imagination being saturated with Scott,
I had naturally the same taste as my master. I soon learned all about
heraldry, and in my leisure time drew and colored all the coats of arms
that had been borne by the Hamertons in their numerous alliances, as
well as the arms of other families from which our own was descended. I
wrote black-letter characters on parchment and made pedigrees, and
became so much of a mediaevalist that there was considerable risk of my
stopping short in the amateur practice of such arts as wood-carving,
illumination, and painting on glass. The same taste for the Middle Ages
led me to imitate our forefathers in more active pursuits; amongst
others I had such a passion for hawking that at one time I became
incapable of opening my lips about anything else. My guardian said it
was "hawk, hawk, hawking from morning till night." Not that I ever
possessed a living falcon of any species whatever. My uncle resigned to
me a corner of the outbuildings, on the ground-floor of which was a
loose-box for my horse, and above it a room that I set apart for the
falcons when they should arrive; but in spite of many promises from
gamekeepers and naturalists and others, no birds ever came! The hoods
and jesses were ready, very prettily adorned with red morocco leather
and gold thread; the mews were ready too, with partitions in
trellis-work of my own making,--everything was ready except the

I knew the coats-of-arms of all the families in the neighborhood, and of
course that of the Towneleys, who had a chapel in Burnley Church for the
interment of their dead, adorned with many hatchments. Those hatchments
had a double interest for me, as heraldry in the first place, and also
because the Towneleys had a peregrine falcon for their crest! I envied
them that crest, and would willingly have exchanged for it our own
"greyhound couchant, sable."

Burnley School possesses a library which is rich in old tomes that few
people ever read. In my youth these volumes were kept in a room entirely
surrounded with dark oak wainscot, that opened on the shelves where
these old books reposed. I read some of them, more or less, but have
totally forgotten them all except a black-letter Chaucer. That volume
delighted me, and I have read in it many an hour. It is much to be
regretted that I had not the same affectionate curiosity about the Greek
and Latin classics, but it was something to have a taste for the
literature of one's own country.

My uncle's brother-in-law, Mr. Edward Alexander, of Halifax, was a
lawyer of literary and antiquarian tastes, and a great lover of
books,--not to read only, but to have around him in a well-ordered
library. He was extremely kind to me, and now, when I know better how
very rare such kindness is in the world, I feel perhaps even more
grateful for it than I did then.

Mr. Alexander was the father of the young Alexander who was my
school-fellow at Doncaster, and I am hardly exaggerating his affection
for me when I say that he had a paternal feeling towards myself. He put
his library entirely at my disposal, and gave me a room in his house at
Heath Field, near Halifax, whenever I felt inclined to avail myself of
it, and had liberty to go there.

His library had cost him several thousand pounds, and was rich in
archaeological books. Mrs. Alexander was a charming lady, always
exquisitely gentle in her way, and gifted with a quiet firmness which
enabled her to match very effectually the somewhat irascible disposition
of my friend, who had the irritability as well as the kindness of heart
which, I have since observed, are often found together in Frenchmen.
With all his goodness he was by no means an indulgent judge; he could
not endure the slightest failure or forgetfulness in good manners, and
most of his young relations were afraid of him. I only offended him
once, and that but slightly. He was walking in his own garden with my
uncle, when I had to do something that required the use of both hands,
and I was encumbered with a book. I dared not lay the book on the
ground, as I should have done if it had been my own, so I asked my uncle
to hold it. I could see an expression on Mr. Alexander's face which said
clearly enough that I had taken a liberty in requesting this little
service from a senior, and it only occurred to me as an afterthought
that I might have put my hat on the ground and laid the book on the hat.
This little incident shows one side of my dear friend's nature, but it
was not at all a bad thing for me to be occasionally under the influence
of one who was at the same time kind and severe. In early life he had
been a dandy, and a local poet had called him,--

 "Elegant Extracts, the Halifax fop."

[Footnote: "Elegant Extracts" was the title of a book of miscellaneous
reading which had an extensive sale in those days. The couplet related
to a public ball,--

  "Elegant Extracts, the Halifax fop,
  With note-book in hand, took coach for the hop."

Mr. Alexander sometimes alluded in a pleasant way to his early
foppishness, and told some amusing anecdotes, one of which I remember.
He and a young friend having adopted some startling new fashion before
anybody else in Halifax, were going to church very proud of themselves,
when they heard a girl laughing at them, on which her companion rebuked
her, saying, "You shouldn't laugh; you might be struck so!" She thought
the dandies were two misshapen idiots.]

In his maturity all that remained of early dandyism was an intolerance
of every kind of slovenliness. He rigorously exacted order in his
library; I might use any of his books, but must put them all back in
their places. Perhaps my present strong love of order may be due in a
great measure to Mr. Alexander's teaching and example. Amongst the
friends of my youth there are very few whom I look back to with such
grateful affection.

Like most boys who have become authors, I made attempts in literary
composition independently of those which were directly encouraged by my
master. In this way I wrote a number of articles that were accepted by
the "Historic Times," a London illustrated journal of those days which
was started under the patronage of the Church of England, but had not a
great success. My first articles were on the Universities, of which I
knew nothing except by hearsay, and on "Civilization, Ancient and
Modern," which was rather a vast subject for a boy whose reading had
been so limited. However, the editor of the "Historic Times" had not the
least suspicion of my age, so I favored him with a long series of
articles on Rome in 1849, forming altogether as complete a history of
the city for that year as could have been written by one who had never
seen it, who did not know Italian, and who had not access to any other
sources of information than those which are accessible to everybody in
the newspapers.

Under these circumstances, it may seem absurd to have undertaken such a
task, but the reader may be reminded that learned historians undertake
to tell us what happened long ago from much less ample material. I got
no money for these articles (there were twelve of them), and no
publisher would reprint them because there was no personal observation
in them which publishers always expect in a narrative of contemporary
events. The work had, however, been a good exercise for me in the
digesting and setting in literary order of a mass of confused material.

My passion for heraldry and hawking led to the production of a little
book on heraldry which was an imitation of Sir John Sebright's
"Observations on Hawking," a treatise that seemed to me simple, and
clearly arranged.

My little book had no literary value, and the publisher said that only
thirty-nine copies were sold; however, on being asked to produce the
remainder of the edition, he said he was unable to do so, as the copies
had been "mislaid." The printing and binding having been done at my
expense, I compelled the publisher to reprint the book, but this brought
me no pecuniary benefit, as the demand, such as it was, had been
satisfied by the first edition.

To this day I do not feel certain in my own mind whether the publisher
was dishonest or not. It would be quite natural that a book on heraldry
should have a very small sale, but on the other hand it is inconceivable
that more than four hundred copies of a book should have been simply
lost. [Footnote: There is a third possibility: the sale may have been
exactly what the publisher stated; but he may have had no belief in the
success of the work, and have printed only one hundred copies whilst
charging me for five hundred.]

It was a very good thing for me that the printing of this treatise on
heraldry was a cause of loss and disappointment, for if it had been
successful I might easily have wasted my life in archaeology, and
corrected pedigrees--those long lists of dead people of whom nobody
knows anything but their names, and the estates they were lucky enough
to possess.

The reader will see that up to this point my tastes had been
conservative and aristocratic. Then there came a revolution which was
the most important intellectual crisis of my life, and which deserves a
chapter to itself.



Political and religious opinions of my relations.--The Rev. James
Bardsley.--Protestant controversy with Rome.--German neology.--The
inspiration of the Scriptures.--Inquiry into foundation for the
doctrine.--I cease to be a Protestant.--An alternative presents
itself.--A provisional condition of prolonged inquiry.--Our medical
adviser.--His remarkable character.--His opinions.

All my relations were Tories of the most strongly Conservative type, and
earnestly believing members of the Church of England, more inclined to
the Evangelical than to the High Church party. In my early youth I
naturally took the religion and political color of the people about me.

There was at Burnley in those days a curate who has since become a
well-known clergyman in Manchester, Mr. James Bardsley. He was a man of
very strong convictions of an extreme Evangelical kind, and nature had
endowed him with all the gifts of eloquence necessary to propagate his
opinions from the pulpit. [Footnote: Since then he has become Canon and
Archdeacon.] He was really eloquent, and he possessed in a singular
degree the wonderful power of enchaining the attention of his audience.
We always listened with interest to what Mr. Bardsley was saying at the
moment, and with the feeling of awakened anticipation, as he invariably
conveyed the impression that something still more interesting was to
follow. His power as a preacher was so great that his longest sermons
were not felt to be an infliction; one might feel tired after they were
over, but not during their delivery. His power was best displayed in
attack, and he was very aggressive, especially against the doctrines of
the Church of Rome,--which he declared to be "one huge Lie."

Of course a boy of my age believed his own religion to be absolutely
true, and others to be false in exact proportion to their divergence
from it, as this is the way with young people when they really believe.
It was my habit to take an intensely strong interest in anything that
interested me at all, and as religion had a supreme interest for me I
read all about the Protestant controversy with Rome under Mr. Bardsley's
guidance, in books of controversial theology recommended by him. My
guardian, with her usual good sense, did not quite approve of this
controversial spirit; she was content to be a good Christian in her own
way and let the poor Roman Catholics alone, but I was too ardent in what
seemed to me the cause of truth to see with indifference the menacing
revival of Romanism.

A large new Roman Catholic church was erected in Burnley, and opened
with an imposing ceremony. There was at that time a belief that the
power of the Pope might one day be re-established in our country, and
the great results of the Reformation either wholly sacrificed or placed
in the greatest jeopardy. Protestants were called upon to defend these
conquests, and in order to qualify themselves for this great duty it was
necessary that they should make themselves thoroughly acquainted with
the great controversy between the pure Church to which it was their own
happiness to belong, and that corrupt association which called itself
Catholicism. I had rather a bold and combative disposition, and was by
no means unwilling to take a share in the battle.

All went well for a time. The spirit of inquiry is not considered an
evil spirit so long as it only leads to agreement with established
doctrines, and as an advanced form of Protestantism was preached in
Burnley Church, I was at liberty to think boldly enough, provided I did
not go beyond that particular stage of thought. Not having as yet any
disposition to go beyond, I did not at all realize what a very small
degree of intellectual liberty my teachers were really disposed to allow

One occasion I remember distinctly. Mr. Bardsley was at Hollins, where
he spent the evening with us, and in the course of conversation, as he
was leaning on the chimney-piece, he spoke about German Neology, which I
had never heard of before, so I asked what it was, and he described it
as a dreadful doctrine which attributed no more inspiration to sacred
than to profane writers. The ladies were shocked and scandalized by the
bare mention of such a doctrine, but the effect on me was very
different. The next day, in my private meditations, I began to wonder
what were the evidences by which it was determined that some writers
were inspired and infallible, and what critics had settled the question.
The orthodox reader will say that in a perplexity of this kind I had
nothing to do but carry my difficulty to a clergyman. This is exactly
what I did, and the clergyman was Mr. Bardsley himself.

He was full of kindness to me, and took the trouble to write a long
paper on the subject, which must have cost him fully two days' work,--a
paper in which he gave a full account of the Canon of Scripture from the
Evangelical point of view. The effect on me was most discouraging, for
the result amounted merely to this, that certain Councils of the Church
had recognized the Divine inspiration of certain books, just as certain
authoritative critics might recognize the profane inspiration of poets.
After reading the paper with the utmost care I felt so embarrassed about
it that (with the awkwardness of youth) I did not even write to thank
the amiable author who had taken so much trouble to help me, and I only
thanked him briefly on meeting him at a friend's house, where it was
impossible to avoid the interchange of a few words.

This autobiography is not intended to be a book of controversy, so I
shall carefully avoid the details of religious changes and give only
results. I do not think that anything in my life was ever more decisive
than the receipt of that long communication from Mr. Bardsley. The day
before receiving it I was in doubt, but the day after I felt perfectly
satisfied that the Divine inspiration of the books known to Englishmen
as the "Scriptures" rested simply on the opinion, of different bodies of
theologians who had held meetings which were called Councils. The only
difference between these Councils and those of the Church of Rome was,
that these were represented as having taken place earlier, before the
Church was so much divided; but it did not seem at all evident that the
members of the earlier Councils were men of a higher stamp,
intellectually, than those who composed the distinctly Roman Catholic
Councils, nor was there any evidence that the Holy Spirit had been with
those earlier Councils, though it afterwards withdrew itself from the

The Protestant reader will perhaps kindly bear with me whilst I give the
reasons why I ceased to be a Protestant, after having been so earnest
and zealous in that form of the Christian faith. It appeared to me--I do
not say it _is_, but it appeared to me, and appears to me still--that
Protestantism is an uncritical belief in the decisions of the Church
down to a date which I do not pretend to fix exactly, and an equally
uncritical scepticism, a scepticism of the most unreceptive kind, with
regard to all opinions professed and all events said to have taken place
in the more recent centuries of ecclesiastical history. The Church of
Rome, on the other hand, seemed nearer in temper to the temper of the
past, and was more decidedly a continuation, though evidently at the
same time an amplification, of the early Christian habits of thinking
and believing.

With this altered view of the subject the alternative that presented
itself to me was that which presented itself to the brothers Newman, and
if I had found it necessary to my happiness to belong to a visible
Church of some kind, and if devotional feelings had been stronger than
the desire for mental independence, I should have joined the Church of

There were, indeed, two or three strong temptations to that course. My
family had been a Catholic family in the past, and had sacrificed much
for the Church of Rome when she was laboring under oppression; for a
Hamerton to return to her would therefore have been quite in accordance
with those romantic sentiments about distant ancestors which were at
that time very strong in me. Besides this, I had all the feeling for the
august ceremonial of the Catholic Church which is found in the writer
who most influenced me, Sir Walter Scott; and there was already a
certain consciousness of artistic necessities and congruities which made
me dimly aware that if you admit the glories of ecclesiastical
architecture, it is only the asceticism of Puritan rebellion against art
that can deny magnificence to ritual. I had occasionally, though rarely,
been present at High Mass, and had felt a certain elevating influence,
and if I had said to myself, "Religion is only a poem by which the soul
is raised to the contemplation of the Eternal Mysteries," then I could
have dreamed vaguely in this contemplation better, perhaps, in the Roman
Catholic Church than in any other. But my English and Protestant
education was against a religion of dreaming. An English Protestant may
have his poetical side, may be capable of feeling poetry that is frankly
avowed to be such--may read Tennyson's "Eve of St. Agnes" or Scott's
"Hymn to the Virgin" with almost complete imaginative sympathy; but he
expects to believe his religion as firmly as he believes in the
existence of the British Islands. Such, at least, was the matter-of-fact
temper that belonged to Protestantism in those days. In more recent
times a more hazy religion has become fashionable.

My decision, therefore, for some time was to remain in a provisional
condition of prolonged inquiry. I read a great deal on both sides, and
constantly prayed for light, following regularly the external services
of the Church of England. Here the subject may be left for the present.

The reader is to imagine me as a youth who no longer believed in the
special inspiration of the Scriptures, or in their infallibility, but
who was still a Christian as thousands of "liberal" Church people in the
present day are Christians.

Before resuming my religious history, I ought to mention an influence
which was supposed by my friends to have been powerful over me, but
which in reality had slightly affected the current of my thinking. Our
medical adviser was a surgeon rather advanced in years, and whose
private fortune made him independent of professional success. As time
went on, he allowed himself to be more and more replaced by his
assistant, Mr. Uttley, one of the most remarkable characters I ever met
with. In those days, in a northern provincial town, it required immense
courage to avow religious heterodoxy of any advanced kind, yet Mr.
Uttley said with the utmost simplicity that he was an atheist, and the
religious world called him "Uttley the Atheist," a title which he
accepted as naturally as if it implied no contempt or antagonism
whatever. He was by no means devoid of physical courage also, for I
remember that at one time he rode an ugly brute that had a most
dangerous habit of bolting, and he would not permit me to mount her. He
was excessively temperate in his habits, never drinking anything
stronger than water, except, perhaps, a cup of tea (I am not sure about
the tea), and never eating more than he believed to be necessary to
health. He maintained the doctrine that hunger remains for a time after
the stomach has had enough, and that if you go on eating to satiety you
are intemperate. He disliked, and I believe despised, the habit of
stuffing on festive occasions, which used to be common in the wealthier
middle classes. I confess that Mr. Uttley's fearless honesty and steady
abstemiousness impressed me with the admiration that one cannot but feel
for the great virtues, by whomsoever practised; but Mr. Uttley had a
third virtue, which is so rare in England as to be almost unintelligible
to the majority,--he looked with the most serene indifference on social
struggles, on the arts by which people rise in the world. Perfectly
contented with his own station in life, and a man of remarkably few
wants, he lived on from year to year without ambition, finding his chief
interest in the pursuit of his profession, and his greatest pleasure in
his books. He so little attempted to make a proselyte of me that, when
at a later period I told him of a certain change of views, concerning
which more will be said in the sequel, he was unaffectedly surprised by
it, and said that he had never supposed me to be other than what I
appeared to the world in general, an ordinary member of the Church of
England. My intimate knowledge of Mr. Uttley's remarkable character must
have had, nevertheless, a certain influence in this way, that it enabled
me to estimate the vulgar attacks on infidels at their true worth; and
though my own theistic beliefs were very strong, I knew from this
example that an atheist was not necessarily a monster.

The only occasions that I remember in youth when Mr. Uttley might have
influenced me were these two. Being curious to know about opinions from
those who really held them, and being already convinced that we cannot
really know them from the misrepresentations of their enemies, I once
asked Mr. Uttley what atheism really was, and why it recommended itself
to him. He replied that atheism was, in his view, the acceptance of the
smaller of two difficulties, both of which were still very great. The
smaller difficulty for him was to believe in the self-existence of the
universe; the greater was to believe in a single Being, without a
beginning, who could create millions of solar systems; and as one or the
other must be self-existent the difficulty about self-existence was
common to both cases. The well-known argument from design did not
convince him, as he believed in a continual process of natural
adjustment of creatures to their environment,--a theory resembling that
of Darwin, but not yet so complete. I listened to Mr. Uttley's account
of his views with much interest; but they had no influence on my own, as
it seemed to me much easier to refer everything to an intelligent
Creator than to believe in the self-existence of all the intricate
organizations that we see. Still, I was not indignant, as the reader may
think I ought to have been. It seemed to me quite natural that
thoughtful men should hold different opinions on a subject of such
infinite difficulty.

The other occasion was, when in the vigor of youthful Protestantism I
happened to say something against the Church of Rome. Mr. Uttley very
quietly and kindly told me that I was unjust towards that Church, and I
asked him where the injustice lay. "It lies in this," he replied, "that
you despise the dogmas of the Church of Rome as resting only on the
authority of priests, whereas the case of that Church is not exceptional
or peculiar, as _all_ dogmas rest ultimately on the authority of
priests." To this I naturally answered that Scriptural authority was
higher; but Mr. Uttley answered,--"The Roman Catholics themselves
appeal to Scriptural authority as the Protestants do; but it is still
the priests who have decided which books are sacred, and how they are to
be interpreted." His conversation was not longer than my report of it,
and it occurred when I met Mr. Uttley accidentally in the street; but
though short, it was of some importance, as I happened at that time to
be exercised in my mind about what Mr. Bardsley had told us concerning
"German Neology." Subsequent observation has led me to believe that Mr.
Uttley attributed more originating authority to priests than really
belongs to them. It seems to me now that they take up and consecrate
popular beliefs that may be of use, and that they drop and discard,
either tacitly or openly, those beliefs which are no longer popular.
Both processes have been going on, for some years very visibly in the
Church of Rome, and the second of the two is plainly in operation in the
Church of England.



First visit to London in 1851.--My first impression of the place.--
Nostalgia of the country.--Westminster.--The Royal Academy.--Resolution
never to go to London again.--Reason why this resolution was afterwards

In the year 1851 I went to London for the first time, to see the Great
Exhibition. Our little party consisted only of my guardian, my aunt, and

My first impression of London was exactly what it has ever since
remained. It seemed to me the most disagreeable place I had ever seen,
and I wondered how anybody could live there who was not absolutely
compelled to do so. At that time I did not understand the only valid
reason for living in London, which is the satisfaction of meeting with
intelligent people who know something about what interests you, and do
not consider you eccentric because you take an interest in something
that is not precisely and exclusively money-making.

My aunts knew nobody in London except one or two ladies of rank superior
to their own, on whom we made formal calls, which was a sort of human
intercourse that I heartily detested, as I detest it to this day.

Our lodgings were in Baker Street, which, after our pure air, open
scenery, and complete liberty at Hollins, seemed to me like a prison.
The lodgings were not particularly clean--the carpets, especially,
seemed as if they had never been taken up. The air was heavy, the water
was bad (our water at Hollins was clearer than glass, and if you poured
a goblet of it beady bubbles clung to the sides), there was no view
except up street and down street, and the noise was perpetual. A
Londoner would take these inconveniences as a matter of course and be
insensible to them, but to me they were so unpleasant that I suffered
from nostalgia of the country all the time.

The reader may advantageously be spared my boyish impressions of the
Great Exhibition and the other sights of London. Of course we fatigued
our brains, as country people always do, by seeing too many things in a
limited time; and as we had no special purpose in view, we got, I fear,
very little instruction from our wanderings amidst the bewildering
products of human industry. I remember being profoundly impressed by
Westminster Abbey, though I would gladly have seen all the modern
monuments calcined in a lime-kiln; and Westminster Hall affected me even
more, possibly because one of our ancestors, Sir Stephen Hamerton, had
been condemned to death there for high treason in the time of Henry
VIII. I was also deeply impressed by the grim, old Tower of London, and
only regretted that I did not know which cell the unlucky Sir Stephen
had occupied during his hopeless imprisonment there.

The rooms of the Royal Academy left a more durable recollection than the
contents of the great building in Hyde Park. Those are quite old times
for us now in the history of English art. Sir Frederick Leighton was a
young student who had not yet begun to exhibit; I think he was working
in Frankfort then. Millais was already known as the painter of strange
and vivid pictures of small size, which attracted attention, and put the
public into a state of much embarrassment. There were three of these
strange pictures that year,--an illustration of Tennyson, "She only
said, 'My life is dreary,'" the "Return of the Dove to the Ark," and the
"Woodman's Daughter." I distinctly remember the exact sensation with
which my young eyes saw these works; so distinctly that I now positively
feel those early sensations over again in thinking about them. All was
so fresh, so new! This modern art was such a novelty to one who had not
seen many modern pictures, and my own powers of enjoying art were so
entirely unspoiled by the effect of habit that I was like a young bird
in its first spring-time in the woods. I much preferred the beautiful
bright pictures in the Academy, with their greens and blues like Nature,
to the snuffy old canvases (as they seemed to me) in the National

The oddest result for a boy's first visit to London was a quiet mental
resolution of which I said nothing to anybody. What I thought and
resolved inwardly may be accurately expressed in these words: "Every
Englishman who can afford it ought to see London _once_, as a patriotic
duty, and I am not sorry to have been there to have got the duty
performed; but no power on earth shall ever induce me to go to that
supremely disagreeable place again!"

Of course the intelligent reader considers this boyish resolution
impossible and absurd, as it is entirely contrary to prevalent ideas;
but a man may lead a very complete life in Lancashire, and even in
counties less rich in various interest, without ever going to London at
all. A man's own fields may afford him as good exercise as Hyde Park,
and his well-chosen little library as good reading as the British
Museum. It was the Fine Arts that brought me to London afterwards; the
worst of the Fine Arts being that they concentrate themselves so much in
great capitals.



The love of reading a hindrance to classical studies.--Dr. Butler
becomes anxious about my success at Oxford.--An insuperable
obstacle.--My indifference to degrees.--Irksome hypocrisy.--I am nearly
sent to a tutor at Brighton.--I go to a tutor in Yorkshire.--His
disagreeable disposition.--Incident about riding.--Disastrous effect of
my tutor's intellectual influence upon me.--My private reading.--My
tutor's ignorance of modern authors.--His ignorance of the fine
arts.--His religious intolerance.--I declare my inability to sign the
Thirty-nine Articles.

The various mental activities hinted at in the preceding chapters had
naturally a retarding effect upon my classical studies, which I had
never greatly taken to. It seemed then, and it seems to me still, that
for one who does not intend to make a living by teaching them, the dead
languages, like all other pursuits, are only worth a limited amount of
labor. It may appear paradoxical at first, but it is true, that one
reason why I did not like Latin and Greek was because I was extremely
fond of reading. The case is this: If you are fond of reading and have
an evening at your disposal, you will wish to read, will you not? But
_construing_ is not reading; it is quite a different mental operation.
When you _read_ you think of the scenes and events the author narrates,
or you follow his reasoning; but when you _construe_ you think of cases
and tenses, and remember grammatical rules. I could read English and
French, but Latin and Greek were only to be construed _à coups de

The case may be illustrated by reference to an amusement. A man who is
indifferent to rowing cares very little what sort of boat he is in, and
toils contentedly as peasants do in their heavy boots, but a lover of
rowing wants a craft that he can move. This desire is quite independent
of the merits of the craft itself, considered without reference to the
man. A sailing yacht may he a beautiful vessel, but an Oxford oarsman
would not desire to pull one of her cumbersome sweeps.

I was at that time a private pupil of Dr. Butler's, and was getting on
at such a very moderate pace that he began to be anxious about his
responsibility. My guardian and he had decided together that I was to be
sent to Oxford, and it was even settled to which college, Balliol; and
my dear guardian expected me to come out in honors, and be a Fellow of
my college and a clergyman. That was her plan; and a very good scheme of
life it was, but it had one defect, that of being entirely inapplicable
to the human being for whom it was intended. I looked forward to Oxford
with anything but pleasure, and, indeed, considered that there was an
insuperable obstacle to my going there. In those days most of the good
things in life were kept as much as possible for members of the Church
of England, and it was necessary to sign the Thirty-nine Articles on
entering the University. This I could not do conscientiously, and would
not do against the grain of my conviction. I looked upon this obstacle
as insuperable; but if I had been as indifferent on such questions as
young men generally are, there would still have remained a difficulty in
my own nature, which is a rooted dislike to everything which is done for
social advancement. I might possibly have desired to be a scholar, but
cannot imagine myself desiring a degree. However, I might have taken the
trouble to get a degree, simply to please my guardian, if there had not
been that obstacle about the Thirty-nine Articles.

From this time, during a year or two, there was a sort of game of
cross-purposes between me and my guardian, as I had not yet ventured to
declare openly my severance from the Church of England, and my
consequent inability to go to one of her universities. The enormous
weight of social and family pressure that is brought to bear on a youth
with reference to these matters must be my excuse for a year or two of
hypocrisy that was extremely irksome to me; but besides this I have a
still better excuse in a sincere unwillingness to give pain to my dear
guardian, and in the dread lest the declaration of heresy might even be
dangerous to one whom I knew to be suffering from heart disease. I
therefore lived on as a young member of the Church of England who was
studying for Oxford, when in fact I considered myself no longer a member
of that Church, and had inwardly renounced all intention of going to
either of the Universities, which she still kept closed against the

The inward determination not to go to Oxford or Cambridge had a bad
effect on my classical studies, as I had no other object in view whilst
pursuing them than the intellectual benefit to be derived from the
studies themselves, and I had not any very great faith in that benefit.
The most intelligent men I knew did not happen to be classical scholars,
and some men of my acquaintance who _were_ classical scholars seemed to
me quite impervious to ideas concerning science and the fine arts. Even
now, after a much larger experience, I do not perceive that classical
scholarship opens men's minds to scientific and artistic ideas, or even
that scholarship gives much appreciation of literary art and excellence.
Still, it is better to have it than to be without it. There is such a
thing as a scholarly temper,--a patient, careful, exact, and studious
temper,--which is valuable in all the pursuits of life.

Mr. Butler had been for some time my private tutor--which means that I
prepared my work at Hollins in the morning, and went to read with Mr.
Butler in the afternoon. The plan was pleasant enough for me, but it was
not advantageous, because what I most wanted was guidance during my
hours of study,--such guidance as I had at Doncaster. However, I read
and wrote Latin and Greek every day, and learned French at the same
time, as Mr. Butler had a taste for modern languages. This went on until
he became rather alarmed about my success at Oxford (which for reasons
known to the reader troubled me very little), and told my guardian that
she ought to send me to some tutor who could bestow upon me more
continuous attention. I was as near as possible to being sent to a tutor
at Brighton,--a reverend gentleman with aristocratic connections,--but
he missed having me by the very bait which he held out to attract my
guardian. He boasted in a letter of the young lords he had educated, and
said he had one or two still in the house with him. We had a near
neighbor and old friend who was herself very nearly connected with two
of the greatest families in the peerage, and as she happened to call
upon us when my guardian received the letter, it was handed to her, and
she said: "That bit about the young lords is not a recommendation; the
chances are that P. G. would find them proud and disagreeable." As for
me, the whole project presented nothing that was pleasant. I disliked
the south of England, and had not the slightest desire to make the
acquaintance of the young noblemen. It was therefore rather a relief
that the Brighton project was abandoned.

It happened then that my dear guardian did the only one foolish and
wrong thing she ever did in her whole life. She sent me to a clergyman
in Yorkshire, who had been a tutor at Oxford, and was considered to be a
good "coach,"--so far he may seem to have been the right man,--but he
was unfortunately exactly the man to inspire me with a complete disgust
for my studies. He had no consideration whatever for the feelings of
other people, least of all for those of a pupil. He treated me with open
contempt, and was always trying to humiliate me, till at last I let him
understand that I would endure it no longer. One day he ordered me to
clean his harness, with a peremptoriness that he would scarcely have
used to a groom, so I answered, "No, sir, I shall not clean your
harness; that is not my work." He then asked whether I considered myself
a gentleman. I said "yes," and he retorted that it would be a good thing
to thrash the gentility out of me; on which I told him that if he
ventured to attempt any such thing I should certainly defend myself. I
was a well-grown youth, and could have beaten my tutor easily. One day
he attempted to scrape my face with a piece of shark's skin, so I seized
both his wrists and held them for some time, telling him that the jest,
if it was a jest, was not acceptable.

As my tutor was very handsomely paid for the small amount of trouble he
took with me, my guardian had inserted in the agreement a clause by
which he was either to keep my horse in his stable, or else let me have
the use of one of his own. He preferred, for economy's sake, to mount
me; so in accordance with our agreement I innocently rode out a little
in the early mornings, long before the hour fixed for our Greek reading
together. As my tutor rose late, he was not aware of this for some time;
but at length, by accident, he found it out, and then an incident
occurred which exactly paints the charming amenity of the man.

His stable-boy had brought the horse to the gate, and I was just
mounting when my tutor opened his bedroom window, and called out, "Take
that horse back to the stable immediately!" I said to the servant, who
hesitated, that it was his duty to obey his master's orders, and
dismounted; then I went to my lodgings in the village, and wrote a note
to the tutor, in which I said that I expected him to keep his agreement,
and in accordance with it I should ride out that day. I then left the
note at the house, saddled the animal myself, and rode a long distance.
From that time our relations were those of constrained formality, which
on the whole I much preferred. My tutor assumed an air of injured
innocence, and treated me with a clumsy imitation of politeness which
was intended to wound me, but which I found extremely convenient, as the
greater the distance between us the less intercourse there would be.
However, after that demonstration of my rights, I kept a horse of my
own--a much finer animal--at a farmer's.

The intellectual influence of my present tutor was disastrous, by the
reaction it produced. He was a fanatical admirer of the ancient authors
who wrote in Latin and Greek, and was constantly expressing his contempt
for modern literature, of which he was extremely ignorant. I was fond of
reading, and had English books in my lodgings which were my refuge and
solace after the pedantic lectures I had to undergo. My love for Scott
was still very lively (as indeed it is to this day), but I had now
extended my horizon and added Byron, Shelley, Tennyson, and other modern
authors to my list. My tutor had all the hatred for Byron which
distinguished the clergy in the poet's life-time, and he was constantly
saying the most unjust things against him; as, for example, that the
"Bride of Abydos" was not original, but was copied from the Greek of
Moschus. This clerical hatred for Byron quite prevented my tutor from
acquiring any knowledge of the poet; but he had seen a copy of his works
at my lodgings, and this served as a text for the most violent
diatribes. As for Shelley, he knew no more about him than that he had
been accused of atheism. He had heard of Moore, whom he called "Tommy."
I believe he had never heard of Keats or Tennyson; certainly he was
quite unacquainted with their poems. He had a feeble, incipient
knowledge of French, and occasionally read a page of Molière, with an
unimaginable pronunciation; but he knew nothing really of any modern
literature. On the other hand, his knowledge of the Greek and Latin
classics was more intimate than that possessed by any other teacher I
had ever known. He was a thorough, old-fashioned scholar, with all the
pride of exact erudition, and a corresponding contempt for everybody who
did not possess it. I do not at this moment remember that he ever
referred to a dictionary. I only remember that he examined my Liddell
and Scott to see whether those modern lexicographers had done their work
in a way to merit his approval, and that he thought their book might be
useful to me. He had some knowledge of astronomy, and was building a
reflecting telescope which he never completed; but I remember that he
was often occupied in polishing the reflectors whilst I was reading, and
that his hand went on rubbing with a bit of soft leather, and a red
powder, when he would deliver the clearest disquisitions on the
employment of words by Greek authors, most of which I was not
sufficiently advanced to profit by. His manner with me was impatient,
and often rude and contemptuous. What irritated him especially in me was
the strange inequality of my learning, for I was rather strong on some
points, and equally weak on others; whilst he himself had an
irresistible regularity of knowledge, at least in Latin and Greek.

We did absolutely nothing else but Latin and Greek during my stay with
this tutor, and I suppose I must have made some progress, but there was
no _feeling_ of progress. In comparison with the completeness of my
master's terrible erudition it seemed that my small acquirements were
nothing, and never could be more than nothing. On the other hand, the
extreme narrowness of his literary tastes led me to place a higher value
on my own increasing knowledge of modern literature, and conclusively
proved to me, once for all, that a classical education does not
necessarily give a just or accurate judgment. "If a man," I said to
myself, "can be a thorough classical scholar as my tutor is, and at the
same time so narrow and ignorant, it is clear that a classical training
does not possess the virtue of opening the mind which is ascribed to

Besides his narrowness with regard to modern literature of all kinds, my
tutor had the usual characteristic of the classical scholars of his
generation, a complete ignorance and misunderstanding of the fine arts.
All that he knew on that subject was that a certain picture by Titian
was shameful because there was a naked woman in it; and I believe he had
heard that Claude was a famous landscape-painter, but he had no
conception whatever of the aims and purposes of art. One of his
accusations against me was that, from vanity, I had painted a portrait
of myself. As a matter of fact, the little picture was a portrait of
Lord Byron, done from an engraving; but any artist may, without vanity,
make use of his own face as a model.

In religion my tutor was most intolerant. He could not endure either
Roman Catholics or Dissenters of any kind, and considered no terms harsh
enough for infidels. He told with approbation the story of some bigot
like himself, who, when an unbeliever came into his house, had loudly
ordered the servant to lock up the silver spoons. He possessed and read
with approbation one of those intolerant books of the eighteenth century
entitled, "A Short Method with Deists," in which the poor Deists were
crushed beneath the pitiless heel of the dominant State Church. It
happened one day, by a strange chance, that an antiquary brought a
Unitarian minister, who also took an interest in archaeology, to visit
the church where my tutor officiated, in which, there were some old
things, and as they stayed in the church till our early dinner-time, my
tutor could hardly do otherwise than offer them a little hospitality.
When the guests had gone (I hope they enjoyed the conversation, which
seemed to me artificial and constrained) my tutor said to me: "That man,
that Unitarian, will go to hell! All who do not believe in the Atonement
will go to hell!" I said nothing, but thought that the mild antiquary
who sat with us at table might deserve a less terrible fate. My tutor
troubled me less, perhaps, about theology than might have been expected.
He intended to inflict much more theology upon me than I really had to
undergo, thanks to his indolence, and the craft and subtlety with which
I managed to substitute other work for it. Still, it was a trial to me
to have to look acquiescent, or at least submissive and respectful,
whilst he said the most unjust and intolerant things about those who
differed from him, and with whom I often secretly agreed. And of course
I had to listen to his sermons every Sunday, and to go through the
outward seemings of conformity that my master had power enough to exact
from me. Beyond the weekly services in the church he fulfilled scarcely
any of the duties of a parish clergyman. He rose about eleven in the
morning, and spent his time either in mechanical pursuits or in
desultory reading, often of the Greek and Latin classics. In fact, my
tutor's mind was so imbued with the dead languages that he was unable to
write his own, but had constant recourse to Greek and Latin to make his
meaning clear.

A year spent with this clergyman, with whom I had not two ideas in
common, produced an effect upon me exactly opposite to that which had
been intended. My feelings towards the ancient classics had grown into
positive repugnance when I saw the moderns so unjustly sacrificed to
them, and my love for the moderns had increased to the point of
partisanship. My tutor's injustice towards Dissenters and unbelievers
had also, by a natural reaction, aroused in me a profound sympathy for
these maligned and despised people, and I would willingly have joined
some dissenting body myself if I could have found one that had exactly
my own opinions; but it seemed useless to leave the Church of England
for another community if I were no more in accordance with the new than
with the old. The fact that my master had been a tutor at Oxford and was
always boasting about his university career--he openly expressed his
contempt for men who "had never seen the smoke of a university"--made me
sick of the very name of the place, and to this day I have never visited
it. In a word, my tutor made me dislike the very things that it was his
business to make me like, and if I had ever felt the least desire for a
degree he would have cured me of it, as it was impossible to desire
honors that were accessible to so narrow a mind as his, a mind fit for
nothing but pedagogy, and really unable to appreciate either literature
or art.

At the end of a year, therefore, I said plainly to my guardian that I
was doing no good, and that it was useless to prepare me any further for
Oxford, as I could not conscientiously put my name to the Thirty-nine

If, in those days, any human being in our class of society in England
had been able to conceive of such a thing as education not in clerical
hands, I might have gone on with my classical studies under the
direction of a layman; but education and the clergy were looked upon as
inseparable; even by myself. My education, therefore, came momentarily
to a stand-still, though it happened a little later that a sense of its
imperfection made me take it up again with fresh energy on my own
account, and I am still working at it, in various directions, at the
mature age of fifty-two.



Choice of a profession.--Love of literature and art.--Decision to make
trial of both.--An equestrian tour.--Windermere.--Derwentwater.--I take
lessons from Mr. J. P. Pettitt.--Ulleswater.--My horse Turf.--Greenock,
a discovery.--My unsettled cousin.--Glasgow.--Loch Lomond.
--Inverary.--Loch Awe.--Inishail.--Innistrynich.--Oban.--A sailing
excursion.--Mull and Ulva.--Solitary reading.

The question of a profession now required an immediate decision. My
guardian's choice for me had formerly been the Church, but that was not
exactly suited to my ways of thinking. The most natural profession for a
young man in my position would have been the law, but my father had
expressly desired that I should not adopt it, as he was sick of it for
himself, and wished to spare me its anxieties. The cotton trade required
a larger disposable capital than I possessed, to start with any chance
of success.

My own desires were equally balanced between two pursuits for which I
had a great liking, and hoped that there might be some natural aptitude.
One of these was literature, and the other painting. A very moderate
success in either of these pursuits would, it seemed to me, be more
conducive to happiness than a greater success in some less congenial
occupation. My fortune was enough for a bachelor, and I did not intend
to marry, at least for a long time.

There was no thought of ambition in connection with the desire to follow
one of these two pursuits, beyond that of the workman who desires to do
well. I mean, I had no social ambition in connection with them. It
seemed to me that the liberty of thought which I valued above everything
was incompatible, in England, with any desire to rise in the world, as
unbelievers lay under a ban, and had no chance of social advancement
without renouncing their opinions. This was an additional reason why I
should seek happiness in my studies, as a worldly success was denied to

The reader may perhaps think that I had not much, in the way of social
advancement, to renounce, but in fact I had a position remarkably full
of possibilities, that a man of the world could have used to great
advantage. I had independent means, enough to enable me, as a bachelor,
to live like a gentleman; I belonged to one of the oldest and
best-descended families in the English untitled aristocracy, had a
retentive memory, a strong voice, and could speak in public without
embarrassment. A man of the world, in my position, would have found his
upward course straight before him. He would simply have made use of the
Church as an instrument (it is one of the most valuable instruments for
the worldly), have given himself the advantages of Oxford, married for
money, offered his services to the Conservative party, and gone into
Parliament. [Footnote: The reader may wonder why the _Conservative_
party is specially mentioned. It is mentioned simply because all my
relations and nearly all my influential friends (who could have pushed
me) belonged to it. The Conservative party is also the one that gives
the best social promotion to those who serve it. There have been many
little Beaconsfields.]

It would have been much easier to do all that than to make a reputation
either in literature or painting,--easier, I mean, for a man starting in
life with so many good cards in his hand as I had.

I have been sometimes represented as an unsuccessful painter who took to
writing because he had failed as an artist. It is, of course, easy to
state the matter so, but the exact truth is that a very moderate success
in either literature or art would have been equally acceptable to me, so
that there has been no other failure in my life than the usual one of
not being able to catch two hares at the same time. Very few dogs have
ever been able to do that.

I decided to try to be a painter and to try to be an author, and see
what came of both attempts. My guardian always thought I should end by
being an author, and though she had no prejudice against painting, she
looked upon it as a pursuit likely to be very tedious, at times, to
those who practise it, in which she was quite right. It is generally a
hard struggle, requiring infinite patience, even in the clever and

One of the first things I did was to go on horseback to the English Lake
district in the summer of 1852, with the intention of continuing the
journey, still on horseback, into the mountainous regions of Scotland.
Unfortunately this project could not be executed with the horse I then
possessed, the most dangerous, sulky, resolute, and cunning brute I ever
mounted. I rode him as far as Keswick, where a horse-breaker tried him
and said his temper was incurable, recommending me to have him shot. The
advice was excellent, but I could not find it in my heart to destroy
such a fine-looking animal, so I left him in grass at Penrith, and went
on to Scotland by the usual means of travelling,--a change that I regret
to this day.

I had materials with me for painting studies in oil, and painted at
Windermere and Derwentwater. It was an inexpressible pleasure to see
these lakes, and a mental torment not to be able to paint them better.

My first sight of Windermere (or of any natural lake, for I had hitherto
seen nothing but fish-ponds and reservoirs) was enjoyed under peculiarly
impressive circumstances. I had been riding alone or walking by the side
of my horse during the night, and arrived at the lake shore by the
guidance of a star. I wrote down my first impression next day, and have
kept the words.

"I could not find the way to the little harbor of Bowness, and so went
on for a considerable distance till I came to a gate which, as I knew,
from the position of the north star, would lead directly to the lake
across the fields. There was a small and scarcely traceable footpath,
and a board to warn trespassers. However, I fastened the horse to the
gate and proceeded. I soon arrived at the shore, and was overawed by a
scene of overpowering magnificence. The day was just dawning. The water
mirrored the isles, except where the mist floated on its surface and
wreathed round their bases. The trees were massed by it into domes and
towers that seemed to float on the cloudy lake as if by enchantment. The
stars were growing pale in the yellowing east; the distant hills were
coldly blue, till far away lake and hill and sky melted into cloud.

"Opposite, I saw the dark form of an island rising between me and the
other shores, strongly relieved against the mist which crept along the
base of the opposite mountain and almost clambered to its dark summit.
The reflection of the dark upper part of the mountain (which rose clear
of the mist) fell on the lake in such a manner as to enclose that of the
island. In another direction an island was gradually throwing off its
white robe of mist, and the light showed through the interstices of the
foliage that I had taken for a crag.

"I had a pistol with me, and tried the echo, though it seemed wrong to
disturb a silence so sublime. I fired, and had time to regret that there
was no echo before a peal of musketry came from the nearer hills and
then a fainter peal from the distance, followed by an audible

This is the kind of travel for the enjoyment of natural beauty. One
should be either quite alone, or have a single companion of the same
tastes, and one should be above all commonplace considerations about
hours. Samuel Palmer often walked the whole night alone, for the
pleasure of observing the beautiful changes between sunset and sunrise.

In the evening there was a fine red sunset followed by moonlight, so I
took a boat and rowed out in the moonlight alone. This first experience
of lake scenery was an enchantment, and it had a great influence on my
future life by giving me a passion for lakes, or by increasing the
passion that (in some inexplicable way) I had felt for them from
childhood. One of the earliest poems I had attempted to compose began
with the stanza,--

  "A cold and chilly mist
    Broodeth o'er Winandermere,
  And the heaven-descended cloud hath kissed
    The still lake drear."

I had already tried to paint lake scenery, in copying a picture, and my
favorite illustrations in the Abbotsford edition of Scott's works were
the lochs that I was now to see for the first time.

After a night at Ambleside I saw Rydal Water in sunshine and calm, with
faint breezes playing on its surface, and rode on to Keswick through the
Vale of St. John. The only way in which it was possible to ride the
brute I possessed was in putting him behind a carriage, which he
followed as if he had been tied to it. In this manner I reached Keswick,
after apologizing to a family party for dogging their carriage so
closely. As soon as the vehicle came to a stop opposite the hotel, my
horse, Turf, threw out his heels vigorously in the crowd. Luckily he
hurt nobody, but the bystanders told me that one of his shoes had been
within six inches of a young lady's face. A vicious horse is a perpetual
anxiety. Turf kicked in the stable as well as out of it, and hit a groom
on the forehead a few days later. The man would probably have been
killed without the leather of his cap.

Finding an artist at Keswick, Mr. J. P. Pettitt, I asked his advice and
became his pupil for a few days. I climbed Skiddaw during the night with
one of Mr. Pettitt's sons, who was a geologist and a landscape-painter
also. When we got to the top of the mountain we were enveloped in a
thick mist, which remained till we descended; but I lay down in my
waterproof on the lee side of the cairn, and slept in happy oblivion of

Mr. Pettitt's lessons were of some use to me, but as all my serious
education hitherto had been classical, I was not sufficiently advanced
in practical art to prepare me for color, and I ought to have been
making studies of light and shade in sepia.

There was nothing more difficult in those days than for a young
gentleman to become an artist, because no human being would believe that
he could be serious in such an intention. As I had a fine-looking horse
in the stable at the hotel, Pettitt of course took me for an amateur,
and only attempted to communicate the superficial dexterity that
amateurs usually desire. It was my misfortune to be constantly
attempting what was far too difficult for me in art, and not to find any
one ready and willing to put me on the right path. I was very well able,
already, to make studies in sepia that would have been valuable material
for future reference, whereas my oil studies were perfectly worthless,
and much more inconvenient and embarrassing.

I was enchanted with the Lake District, seeing Windermere, Derwentwater,
and Ulleswater, besides several minor lakes; but although I delighted in
all inland waters and the Lake District was so near to my own home, I
never revisited it. The reason was that, after seeing the grander
Highlands of Scotland, I became spoiled for the English Lakes. There was
another reason,--the absence of human interest on the English lakes
except of a quite modern kind, there being no old castles on shore or
island. Lyulph's Tower, on Ulleswater, though immortalized by
Wordsworth, is nothing but a modern hunting-box. Nevertheless, I have
often regretted that I did not become more familiar with Wordsworth's
country in my youth.

The mention of Lyulph's Tower reminds me that when I landed there after
a hard pull of seven miles against a strong wind, I was kindly invited
to take part in a merry picnic that was just being held there by some
farmers of the neighborhood. A very pretty girl asked me to dance, and I
afterwards played the fiddle. The scene with the dancers in the
foreground on the green sward, and the lake and mountains in the
distance, was one of the most poetical I ever beheld.

Turf had been ridden from Keswick to Penrith by the horse-breaker
already mentioned, and with infinite difficulty. I would have left him
in the breaker's hands, but he refused to mount again, saying that he
had done enough for his credit, and so had I for mine. By his advice I
took the same resolution, and as nobody in Penrith would ride the brute,
he was left to grow still wilder in a green field whilst I went on to
Scotland by the train.

I had a cousin at Greenock who was learning to be a marine constructing
engineer. He was a young man of remarkable ability, who afterwards
distinguished himself in his profession, and might no doubt have made a
large fortune if his habits had not been imprudent and unsettled. At
that time he was tied to Greenock by an engagement with one of the great
firms where he was articled. He had rooms in a quiet street, and offered
me hospitality. One day I came in unexpectedly and found a baby in my
bed, when the door opened suddenly, and a very pretty girl with dark
eyes came and took the baby away with an apology. I immediately said to
myself: "My cousin has been privately married, that pair of dark eyes
has cost him his liberty, and that child is an infantine relation of
mine!" This discovery remained a long time a secret in my own breast,
and I affected a complete absence of suspicion during the rest of my
stay at Greenock, but it was afterwards fully confirmed. My cousin had,
in fact, married at the early age of nineteen, when he was still an
articled pupil with Messrs. Caird, and living on an allowance from his
father, whom he dared not ask for an increase. He was therefore obliged
to eke out his means by teaching mechanical drawing in the evenings; but
though his marriage had been an imprudence, it was not a folly. He had,
in fact, shown excellent judgment in the choice of a wife. The dark eyes
were not all. Behind them there was a soul full of the most cheerful
courage, the sweetest affection, the most faithful devotion. For
thirty-seven years my cousin's wife followed him everywhere, and bore
his roving propensity with wonderful good humor. What that propensity
was, the reader may partly realize when I tell him that in those
_thirty_-seven years my cousin went through _eighty_-seven removals,
some of them across the greatest distances that are to be found upon the
planet. The only reason why he did not remove to all the different
planets one after another was the absence of a road to them. This
tendency of my cousin Orme had been predicted by a French phrenologist
at Manchester when he was a boy. The phrenologist had said, after
examining his "bumps," that Orme would settle in a place for a short
time and appear satisfied at first, as if it were for good, but that
very soon afterwards he would go elsewhere and repeat the process. I
never met with any other human being who had such an unsettled
disposition. The consequence was that he often quitted places where he
was extremely prosperous, and people who not only appreciated his
extraordinary talents, but were ready to reward them handsomely, in
order to go he knew not whither, and undertake he knew not what.

I left Greenock by an early steamer for Glasgow, and remember this one
detail of the voyage. The morning air was brisk and keen, so I was not
sorry to breakfast when the meal was announced, and did ample justice to
it with a young and vigorous appetite. Having eaten my third poached
egg, and feeling still ready for the more substantial dishes that
awaited me, I suddenly recollected that I had already disposed of an
ample Scotch breakfast at my cousin's. Can anything more conclusively
prove the wonderful virtue of early hours and the healthy northern air?

After visiting Glasgow and the Falls of Clyde in drenching rain, I saw
Loch Lomond, which was my first experience of a Highland lake, and
therefore memorable for me. The gradual approach, on the steamer,
towards the mountains at the upper end of the lake was a revelation of
Highland scenery. The day happened to be one of rapidly changing
effects. A rugged hill with its bosses and crags was one minute in
brilliant light, to be in shade the next, as the massive clouds flew
over it, and the colors varied from pale blue to dark purple and brown
and green, with that wonderful freshness of tint and vigor of opposition
that belong to the wilder landscapes of the north. From that day my
affections were conquered; as the steamer approached nearer and nearer
to the colossal gates of the mountains, and the deep waters of the lake
narrowed in the contracting glen, I felt in my heart a sort of
exultation like the delight of a young horse in the first sense of
freedom in the boundless pasture.

The next sunrise I saw from the top of Ben Lomond, but will spare the
reader the description. It was a delight beyond words for an
enthusiastic young reader of Scott to look upon Loch Katrine at last.
Thousands of tourists have been drawn to the same scenes by their
interest in the same poet, yet few of them, I fancy, had in the same
degree with myself the three passions for literature, for nature, and
for art. If little has come of these passions, it was certainly not from
any want of intensity in _them_, but in consequence of certain critical
influences that will be explained later. I will only say in this place,
that if the passion for art had been strongest of the three the
productive result would have been greater.

From Tarbet on Loch Lomond I went to Inverary, and the first thing I did
there was to hire a sailing-boat and go beating to windward on Loch
Fyne. I made a sketch of the ruined castle of Dundera, which stands
between the road and the loch on a pretty rocky promontory. For some
time I had a strong fancy for this castle, and wanted to rent it on
lease and restore three or four rooms in it for my own use. The choice
would have been in some respects wiser than that I afterwards made, as
Dundera has such easy access to Inverary by a perfectly level and good
road on the water's edge, and by the water itself; but the scenery of
Loch Fyne is not as attractive as that of Loch Awe, and there is always
a certain inevitable dreariness about a salt-water loch which, to my
feeling, would make it depressing for long residence.

I had travelled from Tarbet with a rather elderly couple who were very
kind to me, and afterwards invited me to their house in Yorkshire. The
lady was connected with Sir James Ross, the Arctic discoverer, and her
husband had been a friend of Theodore Hook, of whom he told me many
amusing anecdotes. They were both most amiable, cheerful people, and we
formed a merry party of three when first I saw Loch Awe, as the carriage
descended the road from Inverary to Cladich on the way to Dalmally. As I
kept a journal of this tour, I find easily the account of my first
boating on Loch Awe. It was in the month of August when we had come to a
halt at Cladich:--

"In the afternoon I made a sketch of the bridge taken from the ravine.
It occupied me four hours, as the scene was of the most elaborate
character. We dined at four o'clock, and then strolled to the lake,
which was at some distance. Two boats were lying in a small stream which
emptied itself into the lake, so I pressed one of them into my service,
and was soon out upon the water. The boat was old, badly built, and
rickety. The starboard oar was cracked, and the port oar had been broken
in two and mended with bands of iron. The bottom was several inches deep
in water, the thwarts were not securely fastened, nor were they at right
angles to the keel. Out in the loch the waves were high, and the crazy
craft rolled and pitched like a beer-barrel, the water in her washing
from side to side. However, I reached the island called 'Inishail.' It
was a striking scene. Around me were the tombs of many generations. In
the far distance the dark ruin of Kilchurn was reduced almost to
insignificance by its background of rugged hills towering into the

"Night was coming on quickly as I rowed back to the mouth of the little
river. On reaching the inn I found that the people were getting anxious
about me."

This first row on Loch Awe has a pathetic interest for me to this day.
It was like one's first meeting with a friend who was destined to become
very dear and to exercise a powerful influence on the whole current of
one's life.

As my first impression of London had been, "This is a place an
Englishman ought to see once, but I will never come to it again," so my
first impression about Loch Awe was a profound sort of melancholy
happiness in the place and a longing to revisit it. I never afterwards
quitted Loch Awe without the same longing to return, and I have never
seen any place in the world that inspired in me that nostalgia in
anything like an equal degree.

There is an affinity between persons and places, but the Loch Awe that
won my affection exists no longer. What delighted me was the complete
unity of character that prevailed there, the lonely magnificent
mountains, the vast expanse of water only crossed occasionally by some
poor open boat, the melancholy ruins on island or peninsula, the
wilderness, the sadness, the pervading sense of solitude, a solitude
peopled only with traditions of a romantic past. It was almost as lonely
as some distant lake in the wilds of Canada that the Indian crosses in
his canoe, yet its ruined castles gave a poetry that no American waters
can ever possess. Such was Loch Awe that I loved with the melancholy
affection of youth before the experience of life had taught me a more
active and practical philosophy than the indulgence in the sweet sadness
of these reveries. But Loch Awe of to-day and of the future is as modern
and practical as the sea-lochs that open upon the Clyde. On my first
visit in 1852 there was neither steamer nor sailing-boat; now there are
fourteen steamers on the lake, four of them public, and the railway
trains pass round the skirts of Cruachan and rush through the Brandir
Pass. There is a big hotel, they tell me, just opposite Kilchurn, from
which place, by express train, you can get to Edinburgh in four hours.

The day after our arrival at Loch Awe turned out to be most beautiful (a
fine day in the Highlands seems, by contrast, far more beautiful than
elsewhere), and I shall never forget the enchantment of the head of Loch
Awe as our carriage slowly descended the hilly road from Cladich towards
Dalmally, stopping frequently for me to look and sketch. When we got
near the island, or peninsula, of Innistrynich, with its dark green oaks
and pasture-laud of a brighter green in the sunshine, and gray rocks
coming down into the calm, dark water, it seemed to my northern taste
the realization of an earthly paradise. I have lived upon it since, and
unwillingly left it, and to this day I have the most passionate
affection for it, and often dream about it painfully or pleasurably, the
most painful dream of all being that it has been spoiled by the present
owner, which happily is quite the contrary of the truth.

I went to Oban on the top of the coach in the most brilliant weather
that ever is or can be, alternate sunshine and rain, with white clouds
of a dazzling brightness. Under this enchantment, the barren land of
Lorne seemed beautiful, and one forgot its poverty. For the first time,
I saw the waters of Loch Etive, then a pale blue, stretching far inland,
and the distant hills of Morven were, or seemed to be, of the purest

When my new friends had left me at Oban, I hired a sailing-boat and two
men for a voyage amongst the Western Isles; but as she was an open boat,
the men did not like the idea of risking our lives in her on the exposed
waters of the Atlantic, so the voyage was confined to the Sound of Mull,
and I crossed the island to its western shore on foot. That voyage left
permanent recollections of grand effects and wild scenery of the kind
afterwards described by William Black in his "Macleod of Dare." As we
sailed across the Sound in the evening from Oban to Auchincraig, the sky
was full of torn rain-clouds flying swiftly and catching the lurid hues
from the sunset, whilst the distant mountains and cliffs of Mull were of
that dark purple which seems melancholy and funereal in landscape,
though it is one of the richest colors in the world. It was dangerous
weather for sailing, being very squally, and in the year 1852 I knew
nothing about the management of sailing-boats; but the men were not
imprudent, and after coasting under the cliffs of Mull we landed at
Auchincraig, where at that time there was a miserable inn. The next day
we had a glorious sail up the sound to the Bay of Aros, stopping only to
see Duart Castle. In walking across the island to Loch na Keal, we
passed through a most picturesque camp, that would have delighted
Landseer. There were hundreds of horses and innumerable dogs of the
picturesque northern breeds. It was the half-yearly market of Mull.

I shall never forget my first sight of Ulva, as we sat on the shore of
Mull waiting for the ferry-boat. Ulva lay, a great dark mass, under the
crimson west, reflected in a glassy sea. We had already seen Staffa and
Iona, pale in the distant Atlantic. Then the boat fetched us, and we
floated as in a poet's dream, till the worst of inns brought one back to
a sense of reality.

The boatman who accompanied me, whose name was Andrew, amused himself by
telling lies to the credulous inhabitants of Ulva, and one of his
inventions was that I was going to purchase the island. The other
boatman, Donald, slept in the boat at Salan, wrapped up in a sail. The
return voyage to Oban is thus described in my journal:--

"A fine young man asked me for a seat in the boat, which I granted on
condition that he would perform his share of the work. A favorable wind
carried us well over fifteen miles, half our distance, and the rest had
to be rowed. The sun set in crimson, and the crescent moon arose behind
the blue hills of Mull, over the dark tower of Duart. The scene was
shortly a festival of lights with stars in the sky and the water
brilliantly phosphorescent, so that the oar seemed to drip with fire.
Lastly, when we entered the smooth bright bay of Oban, a crescent of
lights shone around it, reflected in columns of flame upon the surface."

These were my chief experiences of the West Highlands during that first
tour, and they left what I believe to be an indelible impression, for to
this day I remember quite distinctly under what kind of effect each of
these scenes presented itself. The artistic results of the tour
consisted of sketches in oil and pencil, quite without value except to
remind me of the scenes passed through, and of the most decidedly
amateur character. I also wrote a journal, interesting to me now for the
minute details it contains, which bring the past back to me very
vividly, but utterly without literary merit. The wonder is how a youth
with so little manifest talent as may be found in these sketches and
journal could indulge in any artistic or literary ambition. My
impression is that the dull year of heavy work that I had gone through
with the Yorkshire tutor had done positive harm to me. Besides this, I
was living, intellectually, in great solitude. My guardian was very
kind, and she was a woman of sterling good sense, but she knew nothing
about the fine arts, nor could she afford me much guidance in my
reading, her own reading being limited to the Bible, and to some English
and French classics. My uncles were both extremely reserved men who did
not encourage my questions, so I was left for a while to get on without
other intellectual assistance than that afforded by books. My eldest
uncle, the owner of Hollins, said one day to my guardian, "Buy him the
'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' it will prevent him from asking so many
questions;" so she made the purchase, which gave me a large pasture, at
least for facts, and as for good literature, my little library was
beginning to be well stocked. I made no attempt at that time to keep up
my Latin and Greek, nor did I work seriously at painting, but read,
drew, and wrote very much as it happened, not subjecting myself to any
rigorous discipline, yet never remaining unoccupied.



A journal.--Self-training.--Attempts in periodical literature.--The time
given to versification well spent.--Practical studies in art.--Beginning
of Mr. Ruskin's influence.--Difficulty in finding a master in
landscape-painting.--Establishment of the militia.--I accept a
commission.--Our first training.--Our colonel and our adjutant.--The
Grand Llama.--Paying off the men.

On January 1, 1853, I began to keep a journal, and continued it, with
some intermissions, till June, 1855. The journal is long and minute in
detail, and affords me a very clear retrospect of my life in those
years; but it will be needless to trouble the reader with quotations
from it.

The title page of the diary is a clear indication of my pursuits. It is
called an "Account of time spent in Literature, Art, Music, and
Gymnastics." The reader may observe that Literature comes before Art, so
that if I am now an author rather than an artist, the reason may be
found in early studies and inclination. Music and gymnastics were, in my
view, only a part of general culture, yet of considerable importance in
their way.

As a scheme of self-training, this seems sufficiently comprehensive, and
to this day I feel the good effects of it. My reading was not badly
chosen, the drawing gave some initiation into art, and exercise
developed physical activity, not yet altogether lost in mature age.

Still, the experienced reader will see at a glance that this was not the
training of a young painter who, in a craft of such great technical
difficulty and in an age of such intense competition, must give himself
up more completely to his own special pursuit.

On the first page of this diary I find an entry about an article for the
"Westminster Review." I offered two or three papers to the
"Westminster," which were declined, and then I wrote to the editor
asking him if he would be so good as to explain, for my own benefit and
guidance, what were the reasons for their rejection. His answer came,
and was both kind and judicious. "An article," he told me, "ought to be
an organic whole, with a pre-arranged order and proportion amongst its
parts. There ought to be a beginning, a middle, and an end." This was a
very good and much-needed lesson, for at that time I had no notion of a
synthetic _ordonnance_ of parts. There was, no doubt, another reason,
which the editor omitted out of consideration for the feelings of a
literary aspirant, who was too young and too insufficiently informed to
write anything that could interest readers of the "Westminster."

I worked rather hard at writing English verse, and do not at the present
time regret a single hour of that labor. My general habit was to write a
poem, sometimes of considerable length, and then destroy it; but I kept
some of these compositions, which were afterwards published in a volume.
Verse-writing was good for me at that time for a particular reason. I
did not understand the art of prose composition, which is much less
obvious than that of poetry; but being already aware that verse-writing
was an art, approached it in the right spirit, which is that of
ungrudging labor and incessant care. The value or non-value of the
result has nothing to do with the matter; the essential point is that
verse was to me a discipline, coming just at a time of life when I had
much need of a discipline. Besides, the mind of a young man is not ripe
enough in reflection or rich enough in knowledge to supply substantial
and well-nourished prose; but the freshness and keenness of his feelings
may often give life enough to a few stanzas, if not to a longer poem.

It may be objected to this advocacy of verse, that as the poet's gift is
excessively rare, the probability is that a youth who writes verse
attacks an art that he can never master. No doubt the highest degree of
the poetic gift is most rare, and so, according to Christine Nilsson,
are the gifts needed to make a _prima donna_, yet many a girl practises
singing without hoping to be a Nilsson; and there are many poets in the
world whose verses have melody and charm though their brows may never be
"cooled with laurel." The objection to verse as a trifling occupation
comes really from that general disinclination to read verse which
excuses itself by the rarity of genius. Rossetti, who had genius in his
own person, was always ready to appreciate good poetical work that had
no fame to recommend it. [Footnote: Since the above was written I have
met with an address delivered by Mr. Walter Besant, the novelist, in
which he recommends the continuous practice of versification as a
discipline in the use of language most valuable to writers of prose.]

In the way of art at this time I painted three portraits and some
landscapes that were merely studies. It is needless to enumerate these
attempts, all of no value, and generally destroyed afterwards.

An important event occurred on March 22,1853. Being in Manchester, I
bought the first volume of Ruskin's "Modern Painters." In this way I
came under the influence of Mr. Ruskin, and remained under it, more or
less, for several years. It was a good influence in two ways, first in
literature, as anything that Mr. Ruskin has to say is sure to be well
expressed, and after that it was a good influence in directing my
attention to certain qualities and beauties in nature; but in art this
influence was not merely evil, it was disastrous. I was, however, at
that time, just the young man predestined to fall under it, being very
fond of reading, and having a strong passion for natural beauty. In the
course of the year 1853 I corresponded with Mr. Ruskin about my studies,
and I have no doubt of the perfect sincerity of his advice and the
kindness of intention with which it was given; but it tended directly to
encourage the idea that art could be learned from nature, and that is an
immense mistake. Nature does not teach art, or anything resembling it;
she only provides materials. Art is a product of the human mind, the
slow growth of centuries. If you reject this and go to nature, you have
to begin all over again, the objection being that one human life is not
long enough for that.

As it is possible that some critic may say that Mr. Ruskin's influence
was not so much opposed to the tradition of art as I am representing it
to be, and considering that I shall be dead when this is published, I
quote the following passage from a memorandum found amongst the papers
of Mr. Leitch, the water-color painter, and printed in his biography:--

"I knew a young man of talent, ardent and energetic, and anxious to be a
landscape-painter, who went to Mr. Ruskin and asked his advice as to
what he should do, what school he should follow, how he should practise,
and what master he should put himself under. I was told that the answer
he got was to this effect: 'Have nothing to do with schools; put
yourself under no master. Both the one and the other are useless. As
soon as you can draw a tree, or a tower, or a rock, in an ordinary
drawing-master way, that is sufficient. Take your materials then out to
nature, and paint in _her_ school. It is the only school I know of where
you can't go wrong.'"

I had asked Mr. Ruskin to recommend me some landscape-painter in London
with whom I could study for six months. His answer was: "There is no
artist in London capable of teaching you and at the same time willing to
give lessons. All those who teach, teach mere tricks with the brush, not
true art, far less true nature." He then recommended me to "go to
William Turner, of Oxford, not for six months, but for six weeks." I was
prevented from following this advice by a technical difficulty. Turner
of Oxford was a water-color painter. I had learned water-color with two
masters, but had never liked it or felt the slightest impulse to
continue it. One man is naturally constituted for one process, another
for another. There is something in my idiosyncrasy repugnant to the
practice of water-color and favorable to oil, and this in spite of the
greater convenience of water-color, and the facility with which it may
be left off and instantaneously resumed. In after-life I learned
water-color a third time with a very able artist, and now I am able to
paint studies in that medium from nature which are truthful enough, and
people seem to like them; but hitherto I have had no enjoyment whatever
in the work. The reader will please understand that this implies no want
of appreciation of the art when it is skilfully practised by others.
There are certain instruments of music that one may listen to with
pleasure without having the slightest desire to perform upon them.
[Footnote: My estimate of the rank of water-color amongst the fine arts
has steadily risen as the true technical relations of the graphic arts
have become clearer to me. Water-color is quite as great an art as
fresco, whilst it is incomparably more convenient.]

This being so, the reader will understand how I felt about going to
William Turner of Oxford. Hour for hour, I would as willingly have read
Greek as practise water-color washes. Not to trouble Mr. Ruskin,
however, any further with my affairs, I tried to induce several
well-known oil-painters to accept me as a pupil, but always met with the
same answer, that they "did not teach." It was rather a matter of pride
in those days for a successful painter to decline to give lessons; it
proved him to be above the grade of a drawing-master.

On March 29, 1853, a little event occurred which was one of the numerous
causes that turned me aside from the steady practice of art. One of our
friends called about the impending establishment of the militia, and
offered to use his influence with Colonel Towneley to get a commission
for me in the 5th Royal Lancashire, the regiment that was to have its
headquarters at Burnley. My guardian much wished me to accept, and I did
so to please her, as I had not been able to please her by going to
Oxford. There was nothing in a military life, even for a short time
every year, that had the slightest attraction for me. The notion of
rendering a patriotic service did not occur to me, for nobody in those
days looked upon the militia seriously. We were only laughed at for our
pains, and we had a great deal of trouble and hard work in getting the
regiment, including ourselves, into something distantly resembling
military order. Before we were called up for training I got some
initiation with a line regiment.

Our colonel was the representative of a very old Catholic family, the
Towneleys of Towneley. This family had been, skilful enough to avoid
shipwreck during the contests that attended the establishment of
Protestantism in England. It had survived in increasing wealth and
prosperity, and had now reached the calm haven of a civilized age, with
tolerant and liberal institutions. Everything promised a long
continuance. The head of the family had no male heir, but his brother
John, who was a major in our regiment, had one son, a cousin of Roger
Tichborne, and on this son the hopes of continuance rested. Those hopes
have not been realized. The young man died in his youth; his father and
his uncle also died; the property is divided amongst three heiresses,
and now for the first time, since surnames were invented, there is no
longer a Towneley of Towneley.

The colonel was a man of the kindest disposition and the most gentle
manners, without much confidence in himself. For all regimental matters
he trusted the adjutant, Captain Fenton, an officer who had seen much
active service in India. Fenton had by nature the gifts of a ruler of
men. When not on duty he was as gentle as a lady, a pleasant and amiable
talker, but on the parade-ground he ruled us all like a Napoleon. He had
lost one eye; people always believed in battle, but in fact, the loss
had occurred in a tennis-court since his return from India. The other
eye seemed to have gained, in consequence, a supernatural degree of
penetration. It looked you through! One day, on the parade-ground, that
eye glared at me in such a manner that I was quite intimidated, and said
what I had to say in rather a low tone of voice. "Speak up, sir! can't
you?" thundered the adjutant. "Mister Hamerton, I tell you to speak up!"

Fenton had an extremely pretty little bay horse, that had been in a
circus, so when he rode past the companies on parade, and the band
struck up, the horse used to begin dancing, keeping time beautifully,
and indeed danced all the way from company to company. This used to put
Fenton out of temper, and as soon as ever military usages permitted it,
he would stop the band with a gesture, even in the middle of a tune; in
fact, no matter at what moment. To such of us as had a musical
disposition, this was perhaps as difficult to hear as the dancing of
Fenton's horse could be to him. [Footnote: We had a major who did not
much like the band, and when he could stop it, he would say, "Tell that
band to hold its tongue."]

During our first training there were not billets enough in Burnley to
lodge all our men, so one company had to be sent to Padiham, and mine
was selected. I was a lieutenant, and had neither captain nor ensign,
being quite alone as a commissioned officer, but we possessed an
excellent old sergeant, who had seen active service, and, of, course, he
taught me what to do. My "mess" consisted of a solitary dinner in the
inn at Padiham, sufficient, but not luxurious. My guardian had wished me
to go into the militia to live rather more with young gentlemen, and my
only society was that of the old sergeant, who punctiliously observed
the difference of rank. On account of the distance from Padiham to
Burnley (rather more than three miles), we were excused the early
parade, but went through the two others. The consequence was, that at
the end of the training, although we had marched more than the other
companies, we had had only two-thirds of their drill, and when the grand
inspection by a general took place, it was thought advisable to hide my
company and another, that was also weak in drill, though for a different
reason. Luckily, there was a sort of dell in the parade-ground, and we
were ordered to march down into it. There we stood patiently in line
during the whole time of the review, and the inspecting general never
looked at us, which was what the colonel desired. Being destitute of
military ambition, I was quite contented to remain down in the hollow.
The most modest and obscure positions are sometimes the most agreeable.

We had a major who had been a colonel in the Guards. It was whispered
that he did not know very much about drill, having probably forgotten
his acquirements. One day, however, he commanded the regiment, and I
ventured to ask him a question. He answered with a good-humored smile,
that the commanding officer was like the Grand Llama of Thibet,--he
could not be approached directly, but only through the adjutant. My
belief was, and is, that my question puzzled him, for he was far too
good-natured not to have answered it at once if he had been able. I told
the story to my brother officers, who were amused by the comparison with
the Grand Llama, and we sometimes called the major by that high-sounding
title afterwards.

As a perfectly inexperienced young officer, without anybody but an old,
over-worked and used-up sergeant to help him, and a number of drunken
Irishmen in the company to vex and trouble him by day and by night, I
had as much to do during the first training as could be expected of a
youth in my situation. The last day of the training I committed the
blunder of advancing small sums of money to a number of men, who, of
course, immediately got drunk. My ignorance of popular manners and
customs had made me unable to realize the lamentable fact that if you
pay five shillings to a man in the improvident class he will at once
invest it in five shillings' worth of intoxication. I was still in
Padiham at two in the afternoon, finishing accounts, and I had to be in
Burnley with my men in time to get them off by the evening trains. When
we started many of them were so drunk that they could not walk, and I
requisitioned a number of empty carts, and so got the drunken portion of
the company to headquarters. Then there came the final settlement of
more than eighty separate accounts. Without the adjutant, Fenton, I
should never have got through it. He was a methodical man, who
understood the business. He got a quantity of small change, piled it in
separate heaps upon a table, had each man brought up before him, and
said authoritatively, "So much is owing to you--there it is!" In this
way we got through the payments, and the drunken men were lodged in
prison for the night.

I was glad to get back to my quiet literary and artistic occupations,
and my country home. We had been so busy during our first training, and
I had been so much separated from the other officers by my duty at
Padiham, that so far as society was concerned, I might almost as well
have been on the top of Pendle Hill. Besides that, Englishmen are slow
to associate--they are shy, and they look at each other a long time
before getting really acquainted.



A project for studying in Paris.--Reading.--A healthy life.--Quinsy.
--My most intimate friend.

If there is any good in an autobiography it ought to be as an example or
a warning to others; so at the risk of seeming to moralize, which,
however, is far from my intention, I will say something in this place
about my manner of life in those days.

First with regard to art, it was not my fault if all the painters I had
applied to said that they did not take pupils. There was a young
gentleman in our neighborhood who, though a rich man's son, worked
seriously at painting, and put himself every year under the direction of
a French artist in Paris, where he studied in an atelier. I had an idea
of joining him, but my guardian (who with all her sweetness of
disposition could be authoritative when she liked) put a stop to the
project by saying that she refused her consent to any plan involving
absence from England before the expiration of my minority. She had the
usual English idea that Paris is a more immoral place than London.
Perhaps it may be, but great capitals such as Paris, London, and Vienna
have this in common, that you may be moral in them, or immoral, as you
like; and if we are to avoid a town because immorality is practised
there, we must avoid all the great and most of the smaller centres of

For the present I worked from nature, but not with sufficient energy or
regularity. I had not found my path, and was always dissatisfied with my
studies. In literature my reading was abundant, and included the best
English poets and essayists. I had entirely given up reading Latin and
Greek at that time, and was not just then studying any modern language
in their place. Young men both over-estimate and under-estimate their
own gifts,--they do not know themselves, as indeed how should they? I
had an impression that Nature had not endowed me with a gift for
languages. This impression was not only erroneous, but the exact
contrary of the truth, for I am a born linguist.

My life in general was healthy and active. It included a great deal of
walking exercise, sometimes five hours in a day. This, with bathing,
kept me in fair health, though I never had what is called robust health,
that which allows its possessor to commit great imprudences with
impunity. I was once near losing life altogether by an odd result from a
small accident. My horse, which was a heavy and large animal, put his
foot accidentally on mine. The accident did not prevent me from riding
out on the moors, but when I got there the pain became so violent that I
held my foot in a cold rivulet. During the night the pain returned, and
then I foolishly plunged the foot into a cold bath. The result was that
the inflammation flew to the throat, and I had a quinsy which nearly
carried me off. I remember asking for everything by writing on a slate,
and the intense longing I had for lemonade.

My most intimate friend in those days was a young solicitor in Burnley,
a man of remarkable ability and naturally polished manners. His
professional duties did not leave him very much time for reading, but he
had a mind far above the common Philistinism that cannot appreciate
literature. I must have wearied him sadly sometimes by reading my own
verses,--always a most foolish thing to do, and at this day quite
remote from my notions of an author's dignity. Handsley was wisely
indifferent to literary fame, and never wrote anything himself except
his letters, which were those of a clear-headed man of business. He took
upon himself great labors and great responsibilities, which ripened his
faculties at a very early age, and he bore them with uncommon firmness
and prudence. I never met with his superior in the practical sense that
seizes upon opportunities, and in the energy which arrives in time.
"Opportunity is kind," said George Eliot, "but only to the industrious."
Handsley was always one of those to whom Opportunity is kind. If his
career had been in Parliament I am convinced that he would have risen
high. His merits were exactly those that are most valued in an English
Cabinet Minister. At the present time he has under his management some
of the largest collieries in Lancashire, and has been for many years one
of the most influential men in the neighborhood.



London again.--Accurate habits in employment of time.--Studies with Mr.
Pettitt.--Some account of my new master.--His method of technical
teaching.--Simplicity of his philosophy of art.--Incidents of his
life.--Rapid progress under Pettitt's direction.

On August 8, 1853, the writer of this book, who had promised and vowed
never to visit London again, went there to see the Royal Academy
Exhibition, and of course found it closed. If any one could have seen me
before the closed doors, knowing that I had come all the way from
Lancashire in the expectation of finding them open, he might have
derived some innocent mirth from my disappointment.

The Royal Academy being no longer accessible, I turned into the National
Gallery, and at once began to take notes in a pocket-book. This seems to
have been my habit at that time. I took notes about everything--about
painting, architecture, and even the Royal Mews. The notes are copious
and wordy. Though destitute of literary merit, they certainly serve
their purpose, for they recall things vividly enough, even in detail.
Nothing of any importance is omitted.

Although notes of that kind are unreadable, they are very useful
afterwards for reference, and my time could scarcely have been better
spent. I find I gave five hundred words to the description of Turner's
"Building of Carthage," and other pictures are treated with equal
liberality. I carried the same laborious system of note-making even into
exhibitions. In later life one learns the art of doing such work more

Having purchased a few prints for study, I returned to Lancashire and
resumed my strict division of time. Four hours a day were given to
practical drawing, but not invariably the entry is sometimes three or
two only. When art lost an hour, literature gained it, either in study
or practical writing. I was curiously accurate in my accounts of time,
and knew to half-an-hour what was spent on this pursuit or that. Here is
an extract in evidence of this tendency:--

"Thursday, August 13, 1853. Determined to-day to study the copper Albert
Dürer 80 hours, having given 83 to the wood-cuts. I have already given
the copper 101/2 hours, so that I have 691/2 to devote to it yet. I
shall also give 40 hours to Kreutzer's violin studies, and have already
practised them 24, which leaves 16. I shall now commence a course of
poetical reading, beginning with 50 hours of Chaucer, and as I gave him
11/2 last night it leaves me exactly 481/2."

This is carrying exactness to excess, and it is not given as an example
to be followed, but it had the advantage of letting me know how my time
expenditure was running. In this way it became clear that if I intended
to be an artist the time given to practical work was insufficient. As no
painter of eminence would take a pupil I bethought me of Mr. Pettitt,
who had given me lessons at Keswick. He consented to take me, but said
that he had left the north of England for London. In the Lake District
he had been earning a small income; in London he earned twice as much,
but his expenses increased in proportion. The change, however, was a
disappointment to me, as it would have been more profitable to study
from nature under my master's direction, than to copy pictures in a
London studio.

My new London life began at the end of December, 1853. It has always
been, in my case, an effort little short of heroic to go and stay in a
town at all. My dislike to towns increases in exact mathematical
proportion to their size. The notion of going to London to study
landscape-painting seemed against nature. The negotiations with Mr.
Pettitt had been begun with the hope of a return to Derwentwater.

However, one dark and drizzly evening in December I found myself seeking
the number my new master had given me, in Percy Street. He was not
there, that was his studio only; the house was in the suburbs. We met on
the following morning in the studio, where stood an enormous picture of
Nebuchadnezzar and the Golden Image. This was conceived on the
principles of John Martin, with prodigious perspectives of impossible
architecture, and the price was a thousand pounds. The labor involved
was endless, but the whole enterprise was vain and futile from beginning
to end. Pettitt could work honestly and laboriously from
nature,--indeed, he never stinted labor in anything,--but such a large
undertaking as this piece of mingled archaeology and art was alike
beyond his knowledge and outside the range of his imagination. He was
not to blame, except for an error of judgment. The demand for his work
was feeble and uncertain, so he thought it necessary to attract
attention by a sensation picture. To finish the history of this work
without recurring to it, I have only to add that it proved in all ways,
financially and otherwise, a failure.

Mr. Pettitt was a most devoted student of nature, and his best pictures
had the character of faithful studies. He would sit down in some rocky
dell by the side of a stream in Wales, and paint rocks and trees month
after month with indefatigable perseverance; but he had no education,
either literary or artistic, and very little imaginative power. His only
safety was in that work from nature, and he would have stuck to it most
resolutely had there been any regularity in the encouragement he
received; but his income, like that of all painters who are not
celebrated, was very uncertain, and he could not quietly settle down to
the tranquil studies that he loved. Anxiety had made him imprudent; it
had driven him to try for notoriety. The Nebuchadnezzar picture, and
other mistakes of a like magnitude, were the struggles of a disquieted
mind. Pettitt had a very large family to maintain, and did nothing but
paint, paint from morning till night, except for half-an-hour after his
light lunch, when he read the "Times." As the great picture did not
advance very rapidly, he worked by gaslight after the short London
winter day, and often pursued his terrible task till the early hours of
the morning, when exhausted nature could resist no longer, and be fell
asleep on a little iron bed in the studio. There were days when he told
me he had worked twenty hours out of the twenty-four. All this was a
perfectly gratuitous expenditure of time and health that could not
possibly lead to any advantage whatever.

Pettitt was a very kind and attentive teacher, and his method was this:
He would begin a picture in my presence, give me two white canvases
exactly the same size, and then tell me to copy his hour's work twice
over. Whilst he painted I watched; whilst I painted he did not look over
me, but went on with his own work. He was always ready to answer any
question and to help me over any difficulty. In this way he soon
initiated me into the processes of oil-painting so far as I required any
initiation, for most of them were familiar to me already. Unfortunately,
Pettitt had no conception of art. This needs a short explanation, as the
reader may allowably ask how a man without any conception of art could
be even a moderately successful artist.

The answer is that men like Mr. Pettitt regard painting simply as a
representation of nature, and their pictures are really nothing but
large and laborious studies. Pettitt was a most sincere lover of nature,
but that was all; he knew little or nothing of those necessities and
conditions that make art a different thing from nature. The tendency of
his teaching was, therefore, to lead me to nature instead of leading me
to art, and this was a great misfortune for me, as my instincts were
only too much in the same direction already. I could get nature in the
country, and that in endless abundance; what I needed at that time was
some guidance into the realm of art.

Pettitt taught me to draw in a hard, clear, scientific manner. He
himself knew a little geology, and one of his sons was a well-informed
geologist. I copied studies of cliffs that were entirely conceived and
executed in the scientific spirit.

The ideas of artistic synthesis, of seeing a subject as a whole, of
subordination of parts, of concentration of vision, of obtaining results
by opposition in form, light and shade, and color, all those ideas were
foreign to my master's simple philosophy of art. In his view the artist
had nothing to do but sit down to a natural subject and copy with the
utmost diligence what was before him, first one part and then another,
till the whole was done. My master, therefore, only confirmed me in my
own tendencies, which were to turn my back on art and go to nature as
the sole authority. Mr. Ruskin's influence had impelled me in the same
direction. Every one is the product of his time and of his teachers. It
is not my fault if the essentially artistic elements in art were hidden
from me in my youth. Had I perceived them at that time they would only
have seemed a kind of dishonesty.

If Mr. Pettitt had written an autobiography it would have been extremely
interesting. He was the twenty-fifth child of his father, and five were
born after him. He began by being apprenticed to a cabinet-maker, but
did not take to the work, and was put into a printing-office. Then he
served an apprenticeship to a japanner, and married very early on
incredibly small earnings, which, however, he increased by his rapidity
in work and his incessant industry. Before the expiration of his
apprenticeship he had a shop of his own, and sold japanned tea-trays and
bellows. When he was able to rent a house, he made all the furniture
with his own hands, and took a pride in having it very good, either
solid mahogany or veneered. He saved money in the japanning business,
and then on these savings undertook to teach himself painting. His
earliest works were sold for anything they would fetch. Whilst I was in
London he recognized one of them, a small picture that he immediately
bought back for sixpence. There had been a fall in its market value,
alas! for the original price was ninepence. Pettitt had a fancy for
collecting his early daubs, as they confirmed his sense of progress.
Having acquired some knowledge of painting, he engaged himself on weekly
wages as a decorator of steamboat panels. His employers wanted quantity
rather than finish, but Pettitt liked to finish as well as he could, and
recommended his fellow-workmen to study from nature. This led to his

During the time of his poverty, Pettitt made an excursion into France,
and being at Paris with a companion as penniless as himself, he had to
devise means for reaching England without money. The pair had nothing of
any value but a flute, and the flute had silver keys, so it was a
precious article. With the proceeds in their pockets the friends tramped
to Boulogne on foot, and there they arrived in the last stage of
poverty. They cleaned themselves as well as they could before showing
their faces at the hotel they had patronized when richer, and there they
stayed for some days in the hope of a remittance from an uncle. That
relative was of opinion that a little hardship would surely bring the
travellers back to England, and so he sent them nothing. What was to be
done? They avowed the whole case to the hotel-keeper, who not only made
no attempt to detain them, but filled their empty purses. The story
concludes prettily, for the obdurate uncle relented on their arrival,
and at once repaid the Frenchman.

Pettitt long preceded Mr. Louis Stevenson in the idea of travelling in
France with a donkey. He, too, explored some mountainous districts in
the centre or south of France with a donkey to carry his luggage, and
the two companions slept out at nights, as Mr. Stevenson did afterwards.
At last Pettitt met with an old woman whose lot seemed to him
particularly hard. She had to walk from a hill-village down to the
valley every day, nearly twenty miles going and returning; so Pettitt
made her a present of his donkey, and she prayed for him most fervently.

Another of my master's pedestrian rambles extended for fifteen hundred
miles along the coast of Great Britain. During this excursion he
accumulated a vast quantity of sketches, truthful memoranda, almost as
accurate as the photographs which have now superseded studies of that

Pettitt had made astonishing progress considering the humble position he
started from; but unfortunately for me he was not a man of culture, even
in art. One of his friends, a journalist, who often called at the
studio, and who saw a little deeper than most people, said to me one day
that the art of painting, as practised by many fairly successful men
(and he referred tacitly to my master), might be most accurately
described as "a high-class industry."

For my part I worked very steadily when in London, and made rapid
progress. It was not quite in the right direction, unfortunately.

No reader of these pages will be able to imagine what a sacrifice that
stay in London was for me. The studio was never cleaned, and very badly
ventilated. My master did not perceive this amidst the clouds of his own
tobacco smoke, but for me, who had come from perfect cleanliness and the
pure air of our northern hills, it was almost unbearable.



Acquaintance with R. W. Mackay.--His learning and accomplishments.--His
principal pursuit.--His qualities as a writer.--Value of the artistic
element in literature.--C. R. Leslie, R. A.--Robinson the
line-engraver.--The Constable family.--Mistaken admiration for minute
detail.--Projected journey to Egypt.--Mr. Ruskin.--Bonomi.--Samuel

My lodgings were at Maida Hill, and I soon became personally acquainted
with a writer whom I knew already by correspondence, Mr. R. W. Mackay,
author of "The Progress of the Intellect."

Mr. Mackay was for many years a kind friend of mine. An incident
occurred long afterwards which put an end to this friendship. I made
some reference to him in a review that was not intended to be unkind or
depreciatory in any way, as I always felt a deep respect for Mr. Mackay,
but unhappily he saw it in another light, and so it ended our
intercourse. In 1853, and for long afterwards, there was nothing to
foreshadow a rupture of this kind, and I am still able to write of my
old friend as if he had always remained so.

Mr. Mackay was primarily a scholar and secondarily an artist. He had
been educated at Cambridge, and being gifted with an extraordinary
memory, he accumulated learning in very abundant stores. As to his
memory, it is said that he once accepted a challenge to recite a
thousand lines of Virgil, and did it without error. He had a good
practical knowledge of French and German. He possessed a large
collection of water-color sketches made during his travels in Italy and
elsewhere, work of a kind that an amateur might judiciously practise, as
there was no false finish about them. They recalled scenes that had
interested him either by their natural beauty, which he appreciated, or
by association with classical literature.

I hardly like to use the word "gentleman," because it is employed in so
many different senses, but I never knew anybody who realized my
conception of that ideal more perfectly than Mr. Mackay. In him, as
Prince Leopold said of another, all culture and all refinement met. He
was extremely simple in all his ways, and averse to every kind of vanity
and ostentation. He had a sufficient fortune for a refined life, and did
not care for any kind of wasteful extravagance. All belonging to him was
simple and in good taste. He did not see very much society; that which
he did see included several men and women of distinguished ability.

Mr. Mackay's chief pursuit was one to which I would never have devoted
laborious years--theology on the negative side. His idea was that the
liberation of thought could only be accomplished by going painfully over
the whole theological ground and _explaining_ every belief and phase of
belief historically and rationally. My opinion was, and is, that all
this trouble is superfluous. The true liberation must come from the
enlargement of the mind by wider and more accurate views of the natural
universe. As this takes place, the mediaeval beliefs must drop away of
themselves, and we now see that this process is actually in operation.
So far from devoting a life to the refutation of theological error, I
would not bestow upon such an unnecessary and thankless toil the labor
of a week or a day.

The habit of study and reflection had done Mr. Mackay some harm in one
respect; it had withdrawn him too much from commonplace reality. He
always seemed to be moving in a dream, and to recall himself to the
actual world by an effort. This is a result of excessive culture that I
have observed in other cases. My conclusion is that all the culture in
the world, all the learning, all the literary skill and taste put
together, are not so well worth having as the keen and clear sense of
present reality that common folks have by nature.

Mr. Mackay was a laborious and careful writer, and he had a good style
of its kind, though it was more remarkable for strength and soundness
than for vivacity and ease. It was too much of one texture to be
attractive, and so he never became a popular author. Of course the
heterodoxy of Mr. Mackay's opinions was one great cause of his failure
to catch the public ear in England, but even that difficulty can be got
over by a great literary artist. He tried to do his best, as to literary
form, but he never condescended to write for the market in any way, and
used to maintain that if a book was to be profitable it _must_ be
written for the market.

I do not quite agree with this opinion. I should say, rather, that
literature resembles painting in being one of the fine arts, and that
when a book, like a picture, is a fine work of art, it has a great
chance of being a commercial success.

Renan's books have been very successful literary speculations, because
Renan is a first-rate artist. Mackay would have been a better artist in
literature if he had not been so much overpowered by the immense masses
of his materials.

Amongst the new friends I gained at Mr. Mackay's house was C. R. Leslie,
the painter. I was charmed with him from the first, and retain to this
day the liveliest recollection of his exquisitely urbane manners, and
even of the tones of his voice. Leslie was a man of unquestionable
genius, but entirely free from the tendency to despise other people,
which so often accompanies genius. On first meeting with him I took him
for a clergyman, and told him of it later. He felt rather flattered than
otherwise by the mistake, and I have no doubt that his modest nature
would at once refer to points on which the average clergyman would
probably be his superior. Some artists are lost in admiration of their
own works, so that the way to please them is to praise what they have
done themselves; but the way to please Leslie was to praise what
Constable had done. His admiration for Constable was quite as strong a
passion as Mr. Ruskin's admiration of Turner, though it did not express
itself in such perfervid language. I might at that time have become
Constable's pupil, indirectly. Leslie would have educated me in the art
of that master. I had nothing to do but work by myself, copying studies
and pictures by Constable in a studio of my own within a short distance
of Leslie's house, and he would have come to me often to advise.
Robinson, the eminent line-engraver, strongly urged me to put myself
under Leslie's direction, and this, I believe, was the Academician's
kind, indirect way of offering it. On the other hand, I did not wish to
hurt Pettitt by leaving him, and Constable's choice of quiet rural
subjects was to me, at that time, uninteresting. I disliked tame
scenery, not having as yet the artistic perceptions which are needed for
the appreciation of it.

Leslie introduced me to Constable's family, who were very kind, and they
showed me all the sketches of his that remained in their possession. My
love for precise and definite drawing made me unable to see the real
merits of those studies, though I was not much mistaken in thinking that
drawing of the quality I then cared for was not to be found in them.
Constable was essentially what the French understand by the word
_paysagiste_; that is, an artist who studies the every-day aspects of
common nature broadly. He would have done me much good at that time, if
I had felt interested in him, but the lover of the Western Highlands
could not bring himself to care for the fields and hedgerows about
Flatford. Pettitt, at any rate, loved our Lake District and Wales.
Again, though I had a hearty and just admiration for Leslie's unrivalled
power of painting expression in the faces of ladies and gentlemen in
drawing-rooms, I had never seen any landscape by him except tame
backgrounds, which seemed to me quite secondary, as they were.

I had at that time a mistaken belief (derived originally from Mr. Ruskin
and confirmed by Mr. Pettitt) that there was something essentially
meritorious in bestowing great labor on a work of art. It is well for an
artist to be habitually industrious, because that increases his skill,
but it is a matter of indifference whether this or that picture has cost
much or little labor, provided that the artist has clearly expressed
what he desired. Mr. Robinson, the line-engraver, gave me a good lesson
on this subject. We were looking at a drawing by Millais in Indian ink
which was penned all over in minute hatchings. I was full of admiration
for the industry of the artist, but Robinson thought it labor thrown
away. I met Mr. Ruskin personally one evening, and we examined a
water-color by John Lewis which was on a table-desk. The drawing was
fortunately glazed, for as Mr. Ruskin was holding the candle over it the
composite dropped on the glass. He pointed out the minute beauties of a
camel's eye, which was painted so carefully that even the hairs of the
eyelash were given, and the reflections on the mirror of the eye. This
praise of minute detail was at that time only too much in accordance
with my own taste. I had an intense admiration for such feats of skilled
industry as the wonderful lattices that Lewis used to paint with the
eastern sunshine streaming through them on a variety of different
surfaces. I met John Lewis himself. He was a fine-looking man, with a
beard which at that time was of the purest silvery white. I afterwards
had the advantage of a little correspondence with Lewis. He wrote well,
and expressed his opinions about art-work very clearly in his letters.
They amounted chiefly to this: Work always as much from nature as
possible, and give all the care you can.

At that time I had a settled scheme for going to travel and work in
Egypt, and it would have been better for me than Scotland on account of
the greater sameness of the effects. I mentioned this project to Mr.
Ruskin, who said that he avoided travelling in countries where he could
not be sure of ordinary comforts, such as a white table-cloth and a
clean knife and fork; still, he would put up with a great deal of
inconvenience to be near a mountain. Talking of Turner's paintings in
comparison with his water-colors, he said he would rather have half the
drawings than all the oil pictures. He compared a drawing of Nemi with
an oil picture that we could see at the same time, two works almost of
the same date, and gave reasons for preferring the water-color.

My Egyptian scheme brought me into relations with Bonomi, who at that
time was a famous traveller. Bartlett, the artist-traveller, whose works
had been very widely spread abroad by engraving, told me that when he
was ill of a fever at Baalbec he was nursed by a sheik who wore a beard
and rode an Arab horse. This sheik spoke English, and was, in fact,
Bonomi, who had adopted the manners of the wandering Arabs, and would
have remained amongst them if his English friends had not persuaded him
to return.

Bonomi was one of the liveliest little men I ever met. I feel almost
guilty of a fraud with regard to him, for his amiability towards me was
due in great part to his belief of my statement that I was going to
Egypt; yet I never went there, and shall certainly not go now. My only
excuse is that I sincerely believed the same statement myself. He said
that the effects of color and light in Egypt at morning and evening were
perfectly inconceivable. He recommended me to travel, not on the Nile
itself, but on the bank with camels, as that gave a greatly superior
view, both of the country and the river.

Mr. Samuel Sharpe was a charming, straightforward old gentleman, who
said what he thought, without any feeble concession to other people's
opinions. He did not share the prevalent enthusiasm for Turner, which
was of course in great part factitious, as many of the people who
praised Turner so warmly then had laughed at his pictures a few years
before. Mr. Sharpe thought that Turner was an unsafe guide for a young
landscape-painter to imitate. It is remarkable, as a matter of fact, how
little practical influence Turner has had upon the progress of landscape
art. Another and a stronger proof of the independence of Mr. Sharpe's
judgment was his opinion about England and Russia. He did not think it
necessary to oppose Russia's progress towards Constantinople by force,
but thought there was room enough for the two empires without collision.
If Mr. Sharpe's opinion had prevailed, there would have been no Crimean
War, but he and those who thought with him were very much isolated at
that time.

I met at his house a cousin of Miss Martineau, who told us some good
stories, especially about Tennyson. On this a brother of our host said
that he was once travelling when he met with a party of tourists, among
whom he recognized the Laureate. "Who _is_ that gentleman?" said they.
"He has been the life and soul of our party, and we cannot get a clue to
his name, for he has baffled us in every way, tearing it off his luggage
and out of the book he was reading." Mr. Sharpe betrayed the secret, not
much to the Laureate's satisfaction. When travelling in Scotland some
time afterwards I myself met with Tennyson, so a tourist kindly
explained who he was in these words: "That's Alfred Tennyson, _the
American poet_."

Such is fame!



A visit to Rogers.--His home.--Geniality in poets.--Talfourd.--Sir
Walter Scott.--Leslie's picture, "The Rape of the Lock."--George
Leslie.--Robert Leslie.--His nautical instincts.--Watkiss Lloyd.--
Landseer.--Harding.--Richard Doyle.

Mr. Leslie took me one afternoon to see old Mr. Rogers, the poet. When
we arrived he was out for a drive, so we quietly examined the works of
art in the house until his return.

The interest of that house was quite peculiar to itself. Even the
arrangement of the furniture had been unaltered for years, and as the
rooms, just as we saw them, had been visited by most people of note
during nearly two generations, they had an interest from association
with famous names that could not be rivalled, at that time, by any other
rooms in London. The dining-room, for example, was exactly in the same
state as when Byron dined there, and would eat nothing but a biscuit.
Leslie said: "I have seen Mrs. Siddons sitting on the corner of that
sofa near the fire, and Walter Scott walk up to her and shake hands."
Leslie mentioned many other celebrities, but none of them were so
interesting to me as the authors of "Waverley" and "Childe Harold."

Many of the material objects about us had a history of their own. A
stand that carried an antique vase had been carved by Chantrey when a
young unknown furniture-carver, and so had the sideboard, as Chantrey
reminded Mr. Rogers long afterwards, when he was received as a guest in
the same room. The fender, chimney-piece, and ceiling had been designed
by Flaxman, the panels of a cabinet had been painted by Stothard.

We went upstairs to see some pictures in Rogers' bedroom, in itself a
very simple, homely place, with the old man's flannels warming before
the fire. The picture in that room which pleased me most was a subject
borrowed from Raphael, by Leslie,--a lady teaching her boy to read,--but
it was treated freely by Leslie from other models. The boy was his son
George (the future Academician) when young; he had already begun to be

As we were examining this picture, Mr. Rogers returned from his drive
and received us in the dining-room. He said, "Mr. Hamerton, I think I've
seen you before," but I said he was mistaken, so he held out his hand
and went on: "Well then, I'm very glad to see you now, especially so
well introduced. Have you been all over the house? You have the honor of
knowing a very distinguished artist. Look at that picture on the
sideboard, of the poor babes in the Tower! Don't you like it? I think it
is beautiful, beautiful. Nobody ought to be able to look at such a
picture without shedding tears. See the light on the heads--oh! it is
beautiful!" Then he began to ramble a little, but soon came back to
realities, and invited Leslie to dine the next day and meet two
distinguished friends. "I'd rather have you by yourself," he added; "you
and I could do very well without the others."

This was the Rogers of 1854,--senile, as was natural at the age of
ninety-one years and eight months, yet still retaining much of the old
Rogers, hospitable, sometimes caustic, sometimes pathetic, and always a
true lover and appreciator of the fine arts. Leslie declared him to be
the only amateur who had knowledge enough to form a good collection
without assistance.

I dined with Leslie the same day, and the talk turned upon the poets.
Leslie said that the virtue of geniality was of great value to a poet,
and that if Byron had possessed the geniality of Goldsmith, he would
have been as great a poet as Shakespeare, but that his misanthropy
spoiled all his views of life. In saying this, Leslie probably
underestimated the literary value of ill-nature. Much of Byron's
intensity and force is due to the energy of malevolence. The success of
Ruskin's earlier writings was due in part to the same cause. In
periodical literature, it was pure _méchanceté_ that first made the
"Saturday Review" successful.

Talking of Talfourd (who had lately died on the bench) Leslie said that
he was a high liver, and that led him to give an account of Sir Walter
Scott's way of life. At dinner he would eat heartily of many dishes and
drink a variety of wines. At dessert he drank port; and last of all a
servant brought him a small wooden bowl full of neat whiskey, which he
drank off. He then either wrote or talked till midnight, and refreshed
himself with a few glasses of porter before going to bed. Leslie did not
mean to imply that Scott was intemperate for a man of a robust
constitution who took a great deal of exercise, but only that, like
Talfourd, he was a high liver. It is remarkable, in connection with the
subject of Scott's own habits, that eating and drinking are so often and
so minutely described in his novels. His heroes and heroines always have
hearty appetites, except when they are laid up with illness.

A few days after our visit to Rogers, I went to see Leslie's picture of
"The Rape of the Lock," and met Robinson, the engraver, on my way. He
told me to expect the finest modern picture I had ever seen. It was
certainly one of the most perfect works of its class. The action and
expression of the sixteen figures were as lively as in a Hogarth, with
more refinement. Leslie was completely in sympathy with Queen Anne's
time, and reproduced it with unfailing zest and knowledge. He had been
very careful about details. The interior at Hampton Court had been
painted on the spot, and all the still life in the picture, even to a
fan, had been studied with equal accuracy. Mrs. Leslie's mother sat
looking at the picture, and making the liveliest comments on the subject
and the actors. She would get up without hesitation to see something
more nearly, and turn round with perfect balance of body to make her
remarks to the company. She appeared to me then to be about sixty, but
the age of her daughter made that impossible. _Her real age was
ninety-three!_ It seemed incredible that she was older than Mr. Rogers.
Her grandchildren were playfully sarcastic at times, to draw her out in

"We know, grandmamma, that you are a dandy yourself, so no wonder that
you admire the dresses in the picture."

"Yes, yes, I _do_ like people to be dressed as well as possible,--as
well, I mean, as they can really afford. I like them to wear the very
best materials as tastefully as they can." Whilst she was looking at the
picture, Mr. Leslie sat down by her side and read the passage from "The
Rape of the Lock" that his painting illustrated. It was a very
interesting scene--the master with his children about him, and his wife
and her old mother all looking at his last and greatest work, whilst he
was reading Pope's perfect verses so beautifully.

I have scarcely mentioned Leslie's sons yet. George, the future
Academician, was an intimate friend of mine in those days. He was a
clever talker, and he had the advantage--often precious to a taciturn
companion like me--of never allowing the conversation to flag for a
single instant. I think I never knew any one of the male sex, with the
exception of Francis Palgrave, who could keep up such an abundant stream
of talk as George Leslie. This led some of his friends to think that he
would never have any practical success in art, but he afterwards proved
them to be in the wrong. He had a frank, straightforward, boyish nature,
with a fund of humor, and a healthy disposition to be easily pleased.
His philosophy of life, under an appearance of careless gayety, was,
perhaps, in reality deeper than that of my learned friend Mr. Mackay;
for whilst the elderly scholar was laboring painfully and thanklessly to
elucidate the past, the young artist was enjoying the present in his own
way, and looking forward hopefully to the future. The buoyancy of
spirits that George Leslie had in those days is an excellent gift for a
young artist, because it carries him merrily over the difficulties of
his craft. His brother Robert was older and graver. He painted landscape
and marine subjects; but though his pictures have been regularly
accepted at the Academy he has had no popular success. This may be
attributed in great part to his habit of living away from London. Robert
Leslie has all his life had very strong nautical instincts, and very
likely knows more about shipping than any other artist. My belief is
that one reason why he has not been a very successful painter is that
he knows too much about nature, and lives too much in the presence
of nature, which is always overwhelming and discouraging. After
I knew him in London, Robert Leslie indulged his nautical instincts
in sailing and yacht-building, as well as in painting marine pictures.
Aided only by a single workman, he constructed a vessel of thirty-six
tons. With this and other yachts he has made himself familiar with
the southern coasts of England, and has frequently crossed the
Atlantic both on steamers and sailing-vessels. Now that we are both
getting elderly men I heartily regret not to have seen more of Robert
Leslie; but so it is in life,--so it has been particularly in _my_
life,--we are separated by distance from those who might have been our
most intimate and most valued friends. [Footnote: Robert Leslie had a
literary gift, and wrote some clever papers, which have been collected
and published under the title of "A Sea Painter's Log."]

Another friend, gained during my first stay in London, was Mr. Watkiss
Lloyd, who has given up many of the best years of his life to
intellectual pursuits. He has been much devoted to ancient Greek
literature and history, and has studied Greek art with unflagging
interest at the same time, so that he possesses an advantage over most
scholars in knowing both sides of the Hellenic intellect. He has a
manly, frank, and generous nature, with cheerful, open manners. Watkiss
Lloyd is one of several superior men amongst my acquaintances who have
not achieved popularity as authors. The reason in his case may be that
as he has never been obliged to write for money, he has never cared to
study the conditions of success. I told him once, when we were talking
on this subject, that in my opinion it was most necessary to have a
clear and definite idea of the kind of public one is addressing, and
that we ought to write to an especial public, as St. Paul wrote to the
Ephesians. Failure may be caused by having confused ideas about our
public, or by writing only for ourselves, as if our works were destined
to remain in manuscript like a private journal. A man may write what is
clear for himself, when it will require to be read twice or three times
by another. Besides this reason, I am inclined to believe that the
constant study of ancient Greek is not a good preparation for popular
English authorship. The scholar and the successful writer are two
distinct persons. They may be occasionally combined in one by accident,
but if the reader will run over in his mind the names of popular modern
authors, he will find very few distinguished scholars amongst them.

However this may be, Watkiss Lloyd is something better than a popular
author; he is an intellectual man, truly a lover of knowledge and of
wisdom. Without shutting his eyes to the evils that are in the world, he
does not forget the good. On one occasion, after a terrible malady that
had occurred to one dear to him, I said that undeserved diseases seemed
to me clear evidence of imperfection in the universe. He answered, that
as we receive many benefits from the existing order of things that we
have not merited in any way, so we may accept those evils that we have
not merited either. This struck me as a better reason for resignation
than the common assertion that we are wicked enough to deserve the most
frightful inflictions. We do not really believe that our wickedness
deserves cancer or leprosy.

I never wished to push myself into the society of celebrated persons for
the purpose of getting acquainted with them, but I plead guilty to that
degree of curiosity which likes to see them in the flesh. I knew
Landseer by sight, and probably rather astonished him once in a London
street by taking my hat off as if he had been Prince Albert. He used to
pass an evening from time to time at Leslie's house, and I met him
there. He then seemed a very jovial, merry English humorist, with a
natural talent for satire and mimicry; but there was another side to his
nature. If he enjoyed himself heartily when in company, he often
suffered from deep depression when alone. I remember seeing him by
himself when he looked the image of profound melancholy. At that time I
had warmer admiration for his art than I have now, and the general
public looked upon him as the greatest artist in England. No doubt he
was very observant, and had a wonderful memory for animals and their
ways, as well as some invention; he had also unsurpassable technical
skill, of a superficial kind, in painting.

Harding was another very clever artist whom I met at Leslie's. I had
correspondence with him a little as a teacher, and had studied his
works. He had taught many amateurs, including Mr. Ruskin and a clever
friend of mine in the North. I admired his skill, but disliked his
extreme artificiality of style, and the more I went to nature the more
objectionable did it appear to me. The kind of success which is attained
by forcing nature into drawing-masters' set forms never tempted me in
the least. Harding was at one time probably the most successful
drawing-master in England. The word "clever" characterizes him exactly.
He was clever in the art of substituting himself for nature, clever in
the wonderful facility with which he used several graphic arts
technically very different from each other, and clever especially in
that supreme tact of the successful drawing-master by which he makes the
amateur seem to get forward rapidly. He had immense confidence in
himself, and in his own theories and principles.

Another well-known artist whom I met at Leslie's was Richard Doyle. He
had great gifts of wit and invention, with a curiously small fund of
science,--genius without the knowledge that might have given strength to
genius. It is impossible, however, to feel any regret on this account,
for if Doyle's drawings had been thoroughly learned they would have lost
their _naïveté_. He was intelligent enough to make even his lack of
science an element of success, for he turned it into a pretended
simplicity. His own face was mobile and expressive, and it was evident
that he passed quickly from one idea to another without uttering more
than a small percentage of his thoughts.

I remember dancing "Sir Roger de Coverley" when Landseer and Richard
Doyle were of the set. They were both extremely amusing, but with this
difference: that whereas Landseer evidently laid himself out to be funny
in gesture and action, the fun in Doyle's case lay entirely in the play
of his physiognomy. Leslie, too, had a most expressive face--not
handsome (I mean, of course, the elder Leslie; his son George is
handsome), but most interesting, and full of meaning.



Miss Marian Evans.--John Chapman, the publisher.--My friend William
Shaw.--His brother Richard.--Mead, the tragedian.--Mrs. Rowan and her
daughter.--A vexatious incident.--I suffer from nostalgia for the

Mr. Mackay took me to one of the evening receptions that were given at
that time by Mr. John Chapman, the publisher. On our way he spoke of
Miss Marian Evans, then only known to a few as a translator from the
German, and to still fewer as a contributor of articles to the
"Westminster Review,"--a periodical that she partly directed. Neither
the translations nor the articles revealed anything beyond good ordinary
literary abilities. Mr. Mackay told me, however, that this Miss Evans
was a very accomplished lady, and played remarkably well on the piano.

She was at Mr. Chapman's little conversazione, and performed for us. I
remember being well pleased with the music, and thinking that she was
one of the best amateurs I had heard, but I cannot remember what she
played, nor anything about her talk, which would probably be a series of
little private conversations with people that she already knew.

Mr. John Chapman was young at that time, and a very fine-looking man. He
had entered upon the most unprofitable line of business that he could
have chosen in the England of those days, the trade in philosophic
free-thinking literature of the highest class. The number of buyers was,
of course, exceedingly limited, both by the thoughtful character of the
works published, and by the unpopularity of the opinions expressed in
them. The marvel is that such a speciality in publishing could be made
to support itself at all. As a matter of fact, some of the wealthier
free-thinkers published their works, or those of others, at their own
expense, and some helped to maintain the "Westminster Review." Things
have altered wonderfully since then. At the present day the literature
of free inquiry is presented to the world by the richest and most
eminent publishing firms, and free-thinkers have access to the most
influential and the most widely disseminated periodicals.

Some readers of this autobiography may still look upon John Chapman's
speciality with horror; but such a feeling would be unjust. The books he
published were generally high in tone, and they certainly never
condescended to the use of unbecoming language in dealing with matters
held sacred by the majority of the English people. The only object of
that modest propaganda was to win for Englishmen the right to think for
themselves, and also to express their thoughts. That battle has been
won, and, for my part, I feel nothing but respect for those who had
courage to confront the stern intolerance of the past.

My society in London was not entirely confined to the pursuers of
literature and art. I had a few other friends, especially one old
school-fellow, William Shaw, afterwards an able London solicitor. His
mind was an odd compound of manly sense in everything connected with his
profession, and boyishness in other ways. He always retained that
boyishness, which was probably an excellent thing for him as a
relaxation from serious cares. He took little interest in the fine arts,
but at a later period he had the wonderful goodness to give house-room
to some of my unpopular and unsalable pictures, and went so far, in the
way of friendship, that he actually hung them in his dining-room! He was
very fond of recalling reminiscences of our childhood, especially what
he characterized as "the great Fulledge railway swindle." When we were
little boys we undertook the construction of a miniature railway on his
father's land, and issued shares to pay for the rolling plant and the
rails. We got together rather a handsome sum in this way from various
good-natured friends, and after the expiration of some weeks could show
them a rather long embankment. Then we got tired of spade work, and the
enterprise languished. Finally the works came to a standstill, and I
believe we spent the shareholders' money on something else, for
assuredly they never saw it again. After beginning so hopefully in the
art of getting up bubble companies, it is perhaps to be regretted that
we did not continue, as we might have been eminent financiers by this
time. My friend was very active in his youth. I have seen him run by the
side of a galloping horse in a field, holding by the mane, and vault on
the animal's back, after which it went on faster than ever and leapt a
little brook or a hedge. An odd incident occurs to my recollection just
now. My friend had a susceptible heart, and a ravishing beauty was
staying at a certain, country house, so we drove over to call there that
he might see her. I went with him, and we had a dog-cart with a very
lively horse. The drive was in the form of a great circle before the
front door, so he tried to turn to the left; but the horse had decided
for the right, and between them they effected a compromise by taking a
straight cut over the lawn and flower-beds, which presented a deplorable
appearance afterwards. Any one else would have felt a little confused
after such an accident, but Shaw relied upon the good-nature of the
ladies, who always forgave him everything in consideration for his
winning ways and his handsome face.

William Shaw's brother, Richard, was the first member of Parliament who
represented Burnley. I met him in London in 1854, and remember a
description he gave of an old gentleman who was then living permanently
at the Tavistock Hotel. That old gentleman was a perfect mystery; no one
knew where he came from: he never either wrote or received a letter, he
had no settled occupation, but read all the papers, and used to swear
aloud quite dreadfully when he found any fact or opinion that displeased
him. He compensated for this bad language by shouting "Bravo! bravo! Go
it, my boy!" when he found an article to his mind. He once rambled twice
round Covent Garden market without being able to find his way out, and
on discovering that he had got back to the Tavistock, attributed all his
difficulties to the waiter, and scolded him most furiously. The mystery
about him, and his odd manners, would have been an attraction for

Amongst other acquaintances that I made in London was Mead, the
tragedian of Drury Lane Theatre. I recollect admiring his "Iago" very
much. His countenance, which was agreeable and bland in private life,
could be made to express all the evil passions with astonishing power.
He was rather a skilful painter, having occasionally been able to sell a
picture for twenty pounds. When he had a little time to spare, Mead
would come and work on Pettitt's great picture of the Golden Image. He
once drew my portrait, and I drew his. My guardian was not quite pleased
that I should know an actor, but Mead attracted me by the superior tone
of his conversation. It was the first time in my life that I had met
with an accomplished talker; I had known plenty of talkers who were only
fluent, but Mead had always something interesting to say, and he
invariably said it with easy finish and good taste. In a word, he was a
master of spoken English, and did not fear to make use of his power, not
having the usual English false shame which prevents our countrymen from
saying things quite perfectly. Mead had tender feelings. Once after
reading in a newspaper the account of some battle of no great
importance, as we consider such events from a distance, he suddenly
realized, in imagination, the effect of the news on the relatives of the
killed and wounded, and burst into tears. Mead was good enough to accept
on one or two occasions the simple kind of hospitality that I could
offer him at my lodgings, and I find notes in the diary recording the
happy swiftness of the hours I spent with him.

I never made the slightest attempt to enter what is specially called
"London Society," though I had some friends or acquaintances who
belonged to it. My time was entirely taken up with work and visits to a
few houses. I am astonished on looking back to those days by the extreme
kindness of people who were much older than myself, and for whom my
society could have no other attraction than the opportunity it offered
for the exercise of their own goodness. I had one merit, that of being
an excellent listener, which has been a great advantage to me through
life. A distinguished Frenchman once said to me, "You are the best
listener I ever met;" but he had been accustomed to his own countrymen
who are not generally patient or attentive for more than a few seconds
at a time, and who have the habit of interruption.

It is possible, too, that my manners may have been good, for my dear
guardian, so kind and mild about most things, could not tolerate
anything like boorishness, and never hesitated to correct me. Another
effect of her influence upon me was that I liked the society of
well-bred ladies, and felt quite at ease in it. There was a most
intelligent Danish family of ladies, Mrs. Rowan and her daughters, who
received me very kindly. They spoke English wonderfully, with something
like a slight Cumberland accent, and I believe their German was as good
as their English. Mrs. Rowan had been a friend of Thorwaldsen the
sculptor, and possessed three hundred and fifty of his original
drawings, which I did not see, as she had lent them to Prince Albert. A
singular and most vexatious incident is associated in my memory with
those drawings, and I am sure Mrs. Rowan could never think of them
without remembering it. She had (too kindly) lent them to an artist, who
returned them, indeed, but not without having exercised his own talents
in improving them, as drawing-masters do to the work of their youthful
pupils. The reader may imagine the depth of Mrs. Rowan's gratitude. Her
daughter, Frederica, whose name afterwards became generally known, was
one of the most cultivated and agreeable women I ever met. Her nature
had been a little saddened by family misfortunes (the Rowans had been a
very wealthy family in Denmark), but her quiet gravity was of a noble
kind, and if she took life seriously she had sufficient reasons for
doing so.

My studies under Mr. Pettitt went on very regularly all this time, and I
made great _apparent_ progress, although, as will be seen later, it was
not progress in the right direction. One little incident may be
mentioned in proof that I could at least imitate closely. The reader is
already aware that my master's system of teaching consisted in bringing
a picture slowly forward in my presence, whilst I was to copy what had
been done. One day, when the picture had got well forward, Mr. Pettitt
took up my copy by mistake and put it on his own easel. After he had
worked upon it for a quarter of an hour I thanked him for the
improvement. He said he had been quite unconscious of the difference,
and told me to work on his own canvas to repay him for his labor on
mine. Critics will please understand that I know how little this proves
as well as they do. It proves nothing beyond a talent for imitation and
the possession of some manual skill. I have sometimes thought in later
life that if instead of going so much to nature I had mimicked some
particular painter I might have obtained recognition as an artist.

Notwithstanding so much that was agreeable in my London life, it was
still a hard trial of resolution for me to work in a close,
ill-ventilated, and gloomy studio without any view from its window, and
in the beginning of April I returned to the country. From that day to
this I have never lived in London, which has probably been a misfortune
to me, both as artist and writer. I have been there frequently on
business, but have never stayed a day or an hour longer than the time
necessary to get through what was most pressing. It is curious, but
perfectly true, that I have never in my life felt the slightest desire
to purchase or rent any house whatever in London, and there is not a
house in all "the wilderness of brick" that I would accept as a free
gift if it were coupled with the condition that I should live in it.



Some of my relations emigrate to New Zealand,--Difficulties of a poor
gentleman.--My uncle's reasons for emigration.--His departure.--Family
separations.--Our love for Hollins.

In the month of April, 1854, an event occurred which was of great
importance in our family.

My eldest uncle, Holden Hamerton, emigrated to New Zealand with all his
children, and a son and daughter of my uncle Hinde accompanied them.
This suddenly reduced our circle by eleven persons, without counting a
young family belonging to my cousin Orme.

My uncle, who was at that time a solicitor in Halifax, had reached a
very critical period in the life of a _père de famille_. His children
were grown up and expensive, and he had tried various ways of
economizing without any definite result. Amongst others, he had given up
Hopwood Hall, his mansion in Halifax, and had converted the stabling at
Hollins into a residence for his wife and the children who remained with
her. The stables were large enough to make a spacious dwelling. I
remember the regret I felt on seeing the workmen pull down the handsome
oak stalls, and remove the beautiful pavement, which was in blocks of
smooth stone carefully bevelled at the angles. My unfortunate uncle
lived like a bachelor in a small house in Halifax to be near his office,
and only came to Hollins for the Sunday.

It is, of course, very easy to criticize a comparatively poor gentleman
with a large family who is trying not to be ruined. It is easy to say
that he ought to live strictly within his income, whatever it may be;
but to do that strictly would require an iron resolution. He must cut
short all indulgences, annihilate all elegancies, set his face against
all the customs of his class. His attitude towards his wife and children
must be one of stern refusal steadily and implacably maintained. If he
relaxes--and all the influences around him tend to make him relax--the
old habits of customary expense will re-establish themselves in a few
weeks. He must cut his family off from all society, and with regard to
himself he must do what is far more difficult--cut himself off from all
domestic affection, behave like a heartless miser, and, at the very time
when he most needs a little solace and peace in his own home, constitute
himself the executor of the pitiless laws that govern the human

My uncle was not equal to all this. He could make hard sacrifices for
himself, and, in fact, did reduce his own comforts to those of a poor
bachelor, but he could not find in his heart to refuse everything to his
family; so that although they made no pretension now to anything like an
aristocratic position, my uncle still found himself to be living rather
beyond his means, and the expense of establishing his sons and daughters
in England being now imminent, and avoidable only in one way, he spent
days, and I fear also nights, of anxiety in arriving at a determination.

A journey to Scotland settled the matter. My uncle visited his eldest
son Orme, who was then at Greenock, and he discovered, as I had done,
that my cousin was married. Of course I had kept his secret, having
found it out by accident when a guest under his roof. The young man
offered to accompany his father to New Zealand, and my uncle, who loved
his eldest son, thought that this would be some compensation for leaving
England. He did not know that Orme's irresistible instinct for changing
his residence would make the New Zealand expedition no more than a
temporary excursion for him.

Another reason for emigrating to New Zealand was this: My uncle's second
son, Lewis, had abandoned the profession of the law and gone to
Australia by himself, where he was now a shepherd in the bush. He would
rejoin his father, and they would be a re-united family. All of them
would be together in New Zealand except one, my cousin Edward, who lay
in the family vault in Burnley Church. I had feelings of the strongest
fraternal affection for Edward, and if the reader cares to see his
likeness, he has only to look at the engraved portraits of Shelley,
especially the one in Moxon's double-column edition of 1847. The
likeness there is so striking that, for me, it supplies the place of
any other.

Edward died at the age of seventeen. He had a gentle and sweet nature;
but although he resembled Shelley so closely in outward appearance, he
was without any poetical tendency. His gifts were arithmetical and
mathematical, and whenever he had a quarter of an hour to spare he was
sure to take a piece of paper and cover it all over with figures. His
early death certainly spared him much trouble that he was hardly
qualified to meet. He had that dislike to physical exercise which often
accompanies delicate health, though there was no appearance of weakness
till the beginning of his fatal illness.

I well remember my uncle's last visit to his sisters. He did not say
that it was his last, but left some clean linen in the house, saying he
would want it when he came again. In this way there was a little
make-belief of hope; but I doubt if my aunts were really deceived, and I
did not quite know what to think. My uncle seemed flushed and excited,
and contradicted me rather sharply because I happened to be in error
about something of no importance. It was a hard moment for him, as he
loved his sisters, and had the deepest attachment to Hollins, where he
was born, and where he had passed the happiest days of his life. His
last visit has remained so distinct in my memory that I can even now see
clearly his great stalwart figure in the chair on the right-hand side of
the fireplace. Then he left us and passed the window, and since that day
he never was seen again at his old place. I can imagine what it must
have been to him to turn round at the avenue gate, and look back on the
gables of Hollins, knowing it to be for the last time.

His wife and the rest of his family went away without inflicting upon
themselves and us the pain of a farewell. I was present, however, at
Featherstone when my cousin Hinde left for New Zealand. One of his
sisters accompanied him out of pure sisterly devotion. She thought he
would be lonely out in the colony, so she would go and stay with him
till he married. He did not marry, and she never returned.

The colonial strength of England is founded upon these family
separations, but they are terrible when they occur, especially when the
parents are left behind in the old country. To us who remained this
wholesale emigration in our family produced the effect of a great and
sudden mortality. For my part I have received exactly one letter from
the New Zealand Hamertons since they left. It was a very interesting
letter, interesting enough to make me regret "there was but one."

My uncle's property sold well, and on leaving England he had still a
balance of ten thousand pounds in his pocket, which was more than most
emigrants set out with; but he built a good house on the estate he
purchased, and it was ruined in the war. His wife was a woman of great
courage and wonderful constitutional cheerfulness, both severely tested
by three months of incessant sea-sickness on the outward voyage. They
met with one terrible storm, during which the captain did not hope to
save the vessel, and my uncle and aunt sat together in their cabin
clasping each other's hands, and calmly awaiting death.

After their departure my guardian and her sister remained at Hollins as
tenants of the new proprietor. We still clung to the old place, but it
did not seem the same to us. On the night of the sale by auction my aunt
said to me, sadly, as we took our candlesticks to go to bed: "It is
strange to think that we positively do not know under whose roof we are
going to sleep to-night." The change was felt most painfully by her. My
guardian had a more resigned way of accepting the evils of life; she had
a kind of Christian pessimism that looked upon terrestrial existence as
not "worth living" in itself, and a little less or more of trouble and
sorrow in this world seemed to her scarcely worth considering, being
only a part of the general unsatisfactoriness of things. Her sister had
intense local attachments, and the most intense of them all was for this
place, her birthplace, where she had passed her youth. This attachment
was increased in her case by a strong, deep, and poetic sentiment that I
hardly like to call aristocratic, because that word will have other
associations (of pride in expensive living) for most readers. My aunt
had the true sentiment of ancestry, and it was painful to her to see a
place go out of a family. I have the same sentiment, though with less
intensity, and there were other reasons that made me love Hollins
very much. At that time the natural beauty that surrounded it was
quite unspoilt. We were near to the streams and the moors that I
delighted in, and the idea of being obliged to leave, as we might be
at any time by the new proprietor, was painful to a degree that only
lovers of nature will understand.

Even now, in my fifty-fourth year, I very often dream about Hollins,
about the old garden there, and the fields and woods, and the rocky
stream. Sometimes the place is sadly and stupidly altered in my dream,
and I am irritated; at other times it is improved and enriched, and the
very landscape is idealized into a nobler and more perfect beauty.

I need only add to this account of my uncle's emigration, that when he
landed on the shores of New Zealand in much perplexity as to where he
should go to find a temporary lodging, a colonist met him, and said that
he had been told by the Masonic authorities to receive him fraternally.
This he did by taking the whole family under his roof and entertaining
them as if they had been old friends, thereby giving my uncle ample time
to make his own arrangements. In a later chapter of this autobiography I
intend to give a short account of what happened to the emigrants



Resignation of commission in the militia.--Work from nature.--Spenser,
the poet.--Hurstwood.--Loch Awe revisited.--A customer.--I determine to
learn French well.--A tour in Wales.--Swimming.--Coolness on account of
my religious beliefs.--My guardian.--Evil effects of religious
bigotry.--Refuge in work.--My drawing-master.--Our excursion in Craven.

After returning to the country I went through another militia training,
and soon afterwards resigned my commission. According to my present
views of things I should probably not have done so, as it would be a
satisfaction to me now to feel myself of some definite use to my
country, even in the humble capacity of a militia officer; but in those
days the militia was not taken seriously by the nation, so the officers
did not take it seriously either, and, after a brief trial, a great many
of them resigned. The recognized motive for going into the militia was a
social motive, and as I never had any social ambition it mattered
nothing to me that there were a few men of rank in the regiment. I had
not any real companions in it, for I was much younger than most of my
brother officers, and it is likely enough that the society of an
inexperienced youth could offer no attraction to them. My love of my
chosen studies was accompanied by a complete indifference to amusements,
so that the cards and billiards after mess were not an attraction for
me, and my ignorance of field sports has always made me feel rather a
"muff" and a "duffer" in the society of country gentlemen.

The Colonel was always kind to me, and as I looked older than my age, he
quite forgot how young I was and procured for me a captain's commission.
As a matter of fact, I believe that a minor cannot hold a militia
captaincy, because it requires a property qualification. Somehow, the
Colonel was afterwards reminded of my age, and then thought he had made
a mistake; however, my resignation rectified it. In fairness to myself
it may be added that my military work was always done in a manner that
gained the approval of our real master, the adjutant.

One cause that certainly influenced me in leaving the regiment was the
necessity for appearing to be either a member of the Church of England
or a member of the Church of Rome. As I belonged to neither, I felt it a
hardship to be compelled to march to church every Sunday, and go through
the forms of the service. It will, of course, seem absurd to any man of
the world that such a trifle should have any weight whatever. Nobody
endowed with what men of the world call "common-sense" ever hesitates
about going through forms and ceremonies, when he can maintain or
increase his worldly position by doing so. As for me, I make no claim to
superior virtue, but cannot help feeling an invincible repugnance to
these shams. My own line had been chosen when I refused to go to Oxford
and sign the Thirty-nine Articles; the forced conformity in the militia
was a deflection of the compass, but it has pointed straight ever since,
and may it point straight to the end!

When free again, I set to work from nature, applying what Pettitt had
taught me. I drew and painted studies of rocks with great fidelity, and
as rocks are hard things, and my work was as hard as possible, there can
be no doubt that so far it was like nature. Pettitt had strengthened the
positive and scientific tendency that there is in me, so that I was
quite ardent in the pursuit of the rigid and measurable truths, neither
knowing nor caring anything about those more subtle and less manifest
truths that the cultivated artist loves. However, I painted away
diligently enough from nature, giving two long sittings each day, and
writing only in the evenings. My readings at this time were chiefly in
Shakespeare and Spenser.

I may have been attracted to Spenser partly by the belief, greatly
encouraged by the local antiquaries, that the famous Elizabethan poet
lived for some time with relations of his at Hurstwood,--a hamlet by the
side of the same stream that passes by Hollins and a mile or two above
it. The old houses at Hurstwood remained as they were in Spenser's time,
and the particular one is known where his reputed family lived.
[Footnote: The presumptive evidence in favor of the theory that Spenser
stayed at Hurstwood is very strong, and of various kinds. The reader who
takes any interest in the subject is referred to the "Transactions of
the Burnley Literary and Scientific Club," vol. iv., 1886, where he will
find a wood-cut of the house that once belonged to the Spensers of
Hurstwood.] As you ascend the stream beyond Hurstwood, you approach the
open moors, which were always a delight to me. The love of the stream
and the hills beyond frequently led me to pass the little hamlet where
Spenser is said to have lived, and in this way he seemed to belong to
our own landscape, since he must have wandered by the same river, and
looked upon the same hills. So as a boy whose daily wanderings were by
the Avon might naturally think of Shakespeare more frequently than
another, my thoughts turned often to the author of the "Faerie Queene."
I never read that poem steadily and fairly through, but I strayed about
in it, which is the right way of reading it.

My own pursuit of poetry at that time led me to think of a poem founded
on the legends of Loch Awe. To penetrate my mind more completely with
the genius of the place, I went there in the summer of 1854, and worked
at the poem, besides drawing some illustrations, of which a few were
afterwards engraved. Notwithstanding a great liking for Loch Awe, my
stay there was not particularly agreeable. I lived, of course, at the
inns, which were not very good, and having no companion, not even a
servant, I felt rather dull and lonely, especially on the wet days. A
well-known London banker was staying at the inn of Cladich at the same
time with me, so we became acquainted, and he wished to purchase one of
my studies; but as I intended to keep them all, I declined. This was
very foolish, as it would have been easy to do another of the same
subject for myself, and the mere fact of selling would have been a
practical encouragement, especially as that purchase would probably have
been followed by others. The very smallest beginnings are of importance.
It is much for a young artist to get a few pounds fairly offered by a
customer who knows nothing about him except his work, and is actuated by
no motives of friendship.

Another visitor at the same inn exercised upon me an influence of a very
different kind. He had a young daughter with him, and to keep the girl
in practice he constantly spoke French to her. I had studied the
language more than most English boys do, and yet I found myself totally
unable to follow those French conversations. This plagued me with an
irritating sense of ignorance, so I looked back on my education
generally, and found it unsatisfactory. Being conscious that my
classical attainments were not very valuable, I determined to acquire
some substantial knowledge of modern languages, and to begin by learning
French over again, so as to write and speak it easily. This resolution
remained in my mind as irrevocably settled, and was afterwards
completely carried out.

As I shall have a good deal to say about Loch Awe in future pages of
this book, I omit all description of it here. Many of the days spent
there in 1854 were rainy, and I sat alone writing my poem in a little
bedroom on the ground-floor of the inn at Cladich. Of all literary work
versification is the most absorbing, and if it is good for nothing else,
it has at least the merit of getting one well through a rainy day.

On my return from Scotland, I accompanied my guardian and her sister on
a tour in Wales. We revisited Rhyl and some other places that I had seen
with my father, including Caernarvon. This tour was of no importance in
itself; but as from Scotland I had brought the resolution that made me
seriously study French, so from Caernarvon I brought a resolution to
master the art of swimming. Being in the water one morning, I suddenly
found that I could swim after a fashion, and this led to more serious
efforts. Our stream at home was delightful for mere bathing; but the
rocks were an impediment to active exercise. I afterwards became an
accomplished swimmer, and could do various tricks in the water, such as
reading aloud from a book held in both hands, or swimming in clothes and
heavy boots, with one hand out of the water carrying a paddle and
drawing a canoe after me. I have often carried one of my little boys on
my shoulders; but they are now better swimmers than myself, and the
eldest has saved several men from drowning. It is an immense comfort, if
nothing else, to be perfectly at home in the water, and it has increased
my pleasure in boating a hundred-fold.

There is nothing further of importance to be noted for the year 1854,
except that I began to perceive a certain coolness, or what the French
call _èloignement_, in our friends, which I attributed to my religious
opinions. I never obtruded my opinions on any one, but did not conceal
them beneath the usual conventional observances, so that our neighbors
became aware that I did not think in a strictly orthodox manner, though
they were in fact completely ignorant of the true nature of my beliefs.
I remember one interesting test of my changed position in society. There
was a certain great country house where I had been on the most intimate
terms from childhood, where the boys called me by my Christian name, as
I called them by theirs, and where my guardian and I were from time to
time invited to dine, and sometimes to spend a day or two. When our
militia regiment was in training, the owner of this house invited the
officers to a grand dinner, and I, an old intimate friend, was omitted.
It was impossible that this omission could have been accidental, and it
was impossible not to perceive it. I afterwards learned that my
religious views were regarded with disapproval in that house, and there,
of course, the matter rested. At the same time, or soon afterwards, I
noticed that invitations from certain other houses also came to an end,
a matter of little consequence to me personally; but I thought that it
might indirectly be injurious to my guardian and her sister, and began
to feel that I had become a sort of social disgrace and impediment for

It was probably about this time that my guardian bought for me some
religious books, in which heterodox opinions were represented as being
invariably the result of wickedness. I said it was a pity that religious
writers could not learn to be more just, as heterodoxy might be due to
simple intellectual differences. My guardian answered that she could
perceive no injustice whatever in the statement that I complained of.
This was infinitely painful to me, as coming from the person I most
loved and esteemed in all the world. Another incident embittered my
existence for some time. I had an intimate friend in Burnley, and my
guardian said that she regretted this intimacy, not for any harm that my
friend was likely to do me, but because with my "lamentable opinions" I
might corrupt his mind. My answer to attacks of this kind has always
been simple silence; when they came from other people I treated them
with unfeigned indifference; but when they came from that one dear
person, whose affection I valued more than all honors and all fame, they
cut me to the quick, and then I knew by cruel experience what a dreadful
evil religious bigotry is. For what had I ever said or done to deserve
censure? I had as good a right to my opinions as other people had to
theirs, yet I kept them within my own breast, and avoided even the
shadow of offence. My only crime was the negative one of nonconformity.
Even in my latter years, the same old spirit of intolerance pursues me.
The nearest relation I have left in England said to my wife that she
hoped my books had not an extensive sale, so that their evil influence
might be as narrowly restricted as possible. As for her, she would not
even look into them. [Footnote: In writing this autobiography I often
suddenly remember some forgotten incident of past times. Here is one
that has just occurred to me. When walking out in 1853, I met a boy who
shouted after me, "You're the fellow that thinks we are all like rats!"
He had probably heard my opinions discussed in his family circle--how
justly and how intelligently his exclamation shows.]

My refuge in those days was that best of all refuges--occupation. I was
constantly at work on my different pursuits, and led a very healthy life
at Hollins. The greatest objection to it was an evil that I have had to
put up with in several different places, and that is intellectual
isolation, especially on the side of art. I had nobody to speak to on
that subject, except my old drawing-master, Mr. Henry Palmer. He had
inevitably fallen into the usual routine of futile teaching, which is
the fault of an uneducated public opinion, and of which the
drawing-masters themselves are the first victims, so I did not take
lessons from him; but he felt a warm and earnest interest in the fine
arts, and we talked about old masters and modern masters for hours
together in my study at Hollins, and in our walks. We once made a
delightful sketching excursion together into the district of Craven, and
I remember that at Bolton Abbey we met with a wonderful German who could
sit in the presence of nature and coolly make trees according to a
mechanical recipe. He might just as well have drawn the scenery of the
Wharfe in the heart of Berlin.



Publication of "The Isles of Loch Awe and other Poems."--Their sale.
--Advice to poetic aspirants.--Mistake in illustrating my book of
verse.--Its subsequent history.--Want of art in the book.--Too much
reality.--Abandonment of verse.--A critic in "Fraser."--Visit to Paris
in 1855.--Captain Turnbull.--Ball at the Hôtel de Ville.--Louis
Napoleon and Victor Emmanuel.

My volume, "The Isles of Loch Awe and other Poems," appeared the day I
came of age, September 10, 1855. It was published at my own expense, in
an edition of two thousand copies, of which exactly eleven were sold in
the real literary market. The town of Burnley took thirty-six copies,
from a friendly interest in the author, and deserves my deepest
gratitude--not that the thirty-six copies quite paid the expenses of

Perhaps some poetic aspirant may read these pages, and if he does, he
may accept a word of advice.

The difficulty in publishing poems is to get them fully and fairly read
and considered by some publisher of real eminence in the trade. It is
difficult to appreciate poetry in manuscript, and there is such a
natural tendency to refuse anything in the form of metre, that it is
well to smooth the way for it as much as possible. I would, therefore,
if I had to begin again, get my poems put into type, and a private
edition of one hundred copies should be printed. A few of these being
sent to the leading publishers, I should very soon ascertain whether any
one of them was inclined to bring out the work. If they all declined, my
loss would be the smallest possible, and I should possess a few copies
of a rare book. If one publisher accepted, I should get an appeal to the
public, which is all that a young author wants. [Footnote: A single copy
clearly printed by the type-writing machine would now be almost as good
for the purpose as a small privately printed edition.]

I committed a great error in illustrating my book of verse. The
illustrations only set up a conflict of interest with the poetry, and
did no good whatever to the sale, whilst they vastly increased the cost
of publication. Poetry is an independent art, and if it cannot stand on
its own merits, the reason must be that it is destitute of vitality.

The subsequent history of this volume of poems is worth telling to those
who take an interest in books. It was published at six shillings, and as
the sale had been extremely small, I reduced the price to half-a-crown.
The reduction brought on a sale of about three hundred copies, and there
it stopped. I then disposed of the entire remainder to a wholesale buyer
of "remainders" for the modest sum of sixpence per copy. Since I have
become known as a writer of prose, many people have sought out this book
of verse, with the wonderful and unforeseen result that it has resumed
its original price. I myself have purchased copies for five shillings
each that I had sold for sixpence (not a profitable species of
commerce), and I have been told that the book is now worth six
shillings, exactly my original estimate of its possible value to an
enlightened and discriminating public.

Emerson wrote that the English had many poetical writers, but no poet,
and this at a time when Tennyson was already famous. The same spirit of
exclusion, in a minor degree, will deny the existence of all poets
except three, or perhaps four, in a generation. It would be presumptuous
to hope to be one of the three; but I do not think it was presumptuous
in me to hope for some readers for my verse. As this autobiography
approached that early publication, I read the volume over again, with a
fresh eye, after an interval of many years, exactly as if it had been
written by somebody else. There is poetry in the verse, and there is
prose also, my fault having been, at that time, that I was unable to
discriminate between the two. I had not the craft and art to make the
most of such poetical ideas as were really my own. These defects are
natural enough in a very young writer who could not possibly have much
literary skill. Amongst other marks of its absence, or deficiency, must
be reckoned the facility with which I allowed the mere matter-of-fact to
get into my verse, not being clearly aware that the matter-of-fact is
death to poetic art, and that nothing whatever is admissible into poetry
without being first idealized. Another cause of inferiority was that my
emotions were too real. The consequence of reality in emotion is very
curious, being exactly the contrary of what one would naturally expect.
Real emotion expresses itself simply and briefly, and often quite feebly
and inadequately. [Footnote: Amongst the uneducated genuine emotion is
often voluble; but poets usually belong to the educated classes.] The
result, of course, is that the reader's feelings are not played upon
sufficiently to excite them. Feigned, or artistic emotion, on the
contrary, leaves the poetic artist in the fullest possession of all his
means of influence, and he works upon the reader's feelings by slow or
by sudden effects at his own choice. [Footnote: Two diametrically
opposite opinions on this subject are held by actors, some of whom think
that in their profession emotion ought to be real, others that it ought
to be feigned. I know nothing about acting; but have always found in
literature and art, and even in the intercourse of life, that my own
real emotions expressed themselves very inadequately.]

The failure of "The Isles of Loch Awe" occasioned me rather a heavy
loss, which had the effect of making me economical for two or three
years, during which I did not even keep a horse. I also came to the
conclusion that nobody wanted my verses, and (not having either the
inspiration of Shelley and Keats, or the dogged determination of
Wordsworth) I gave up writing verse altogether, and that with a
suddenness and completeness that astonishes me now. Young men are
extreme in their hopes and in their discouragements. I had expected to
sell two thousand copies of a book of poetry by a totally unknown
writer, and because I did not immediately succeed in the hopeless
attempt I must needs break with literature altogether! It did not occur
to me to pursue the art of prose composition, which is quite as
interesting as that of verse, and ten times more rewarding in every

My book had been, on the whole, very kindly received by the reviews, and
a very odd incident occurred in connection with a well-known periodical.
At that time "Fraser's Magazine" was one of the great authorities, and a
contributor to it was so pleased with my poems that he determined to
write an important article upon them. One of his friends knew of this
intention, and told me. He revealed to the contributor, accidentally,
that he had given me this piece of information, on which the contributor
at once replied that since the author of the volume had been made aware
that it was to be reviewed, it was evident that his knowledge of the
fact had made it impossible to write the article. Does the reader
perceive the impossibility? I confess that it is invisible for me.
However, by this trifling incident my book missed a most important
review, which, at that time, might have classed it amongst the
noticeable publications of the period.

My commercial non-success in poetry threw me back more decidedly upon
painting, and this in combination with the resolution to learn French
well, of which something has been already said, made me go to Paris in
the autumn of 1855. I was at that time so utterly ignorant of modern
languages, as they are spoken, that in the train between Calais and
Paris I could not be certain, until I was told by an Englishman who was
more of a linguist than myself, which of my fellow-travellers were
speaking French and which Italian. I made such good use of my time in
Paris that when returning to England on the same railway, after the
short interval of three months, I spoke French fluently (though not
correctly) for the greater part of the way, and did not miss a syllable
that was said to me.

I had no knowledge of Paris and its hotels, so let myself be guided by a
fellow-traveller. We went to the Hôtel du Louvre, then so new that it
smelt of plaster and paint. In those days, big, splendid hotels were
almost unknown in Europe. The vast dining-hall, with its palatial
decoration, impressed my inexperience very strongly. During my stay in
the Hôtel du Louvre, I made the acquaintance of some English officers.
One was a splendid-looking man of about twenty-eight, physically the
finest Englishman I was ever personally acquainted with, and another was
a much older and more experienced officer on leave of absence from
India, where he ruled over a considerable territory. His name was
Turnbull, and I have been told since by another Indian officer, that
Captain Turnbull was the original of Colonel Newcome. Certainly, he was
one of the kindest, most amiable, and most unpretending gentlemen I ever
met. These two officers were invited to the ball at the Hôtel de Ville
that was given by the Parisian municipality to the Emperor and King
Victor Emmanuel, and it happened that the young military Adonis had not
his uniform with him, whilst the idea of going to the ball without it,
and appearing only like a commonplace civilian, was so vexatious as to
be inadmissible. He therefore refused to go, and transferred his card to
me; so I went with Captain Turnbull, who had a cocked hat like a
general, and was taken for one. Some French people, by a stretch of
imagination, even took him for Prince Albert!

The Hôtel de Ville was very splendid on a night of that kind, and when,
long afterwards, I saw it as a blackened ruin, the details of that past
splendor all came back to me. The most interesting moment was when the
crowd of guests formed in two lines in the great ball-room, and the
Emperor and King took their places for a short time on two thrones,
after which they slowly walked down the open space. I happened to be
standing near a French general, who kindly spoke a few words to me, and
just after that the Emperor came and shook hands with him, asking a
friendly question. In this way I saw Louis Napoleon very plainly; but
the more interesting of the two souvenirs for me is certainly that of
the immortal leader of men who was afterwards the first King of Italy.
As for Louis Napoleon, the sight of him in his glory called to mind an
anecdote told of him by Major Towneley in our regiment. When an exile in
London, he spoke to the major of some project that he would put into
execution _quand je serai Empereur_. "Do you really still cherish hopes
of that kind?" asked the sceptical Englishman. "They are not merely
hopes," answered Louis Napoleon, "but a certainty." He believed firmly
in the re-establishment of the Empire, but had no faith whatever in its
permanence. This uneasy apprehension of a fall was publicly betrayed
afterwards by the unnecessary plebiscitum. In a conversation with a
French supporter of the Empire, Louis Napoleon said, "So long as I am
necessary my power will remain unshakable, but when my hour comes I
shall be broken like glass!" He believed himself to be simply an
instrument in the hands of Providence that would be thrown away when no
longer of any use.

We who saw the sovereigns of France and Sardinia walking down that
ball-room together, little imagined what would be the ultimate
consequences of their alliance--the establishment of the Italian
kingdom, then of the German Empire, with the siege of Paris, the
Commune, and the total destruction of the building that dazzled us by
its splendor, and of the palace where the sovereigns slept that night.

Now they sleep far apart,--one in the Pantheon of ancient Rome, in the
midst of the Italian people, who hold his name in everlasting honor; the
other in an exile's grave in England, with a name upon it that is
execrated from Boulogne to Strasburg, and from Calais to Marseilles.



Thackeray's family in Paris.--Madame Mohl.--Her husband's encouraging
theory about learning languages.--Mr. Scholey.--His friend, William
Wyld.--An Indian in Europe.--An Italian adventuress.--Important meeting
with an American.--Its consequences.--I go to a French hotel.--People at
the _table d'hôte_.--M. Victor Ouvrard.--His claim on the Emperor.--M.
Gindriez.--His family.--His eldest daughter.

Captain Turnbull knew some English people in the colony at Paris, so he
introduced me to two or three houses, and if my object had been to speak
English instead of French, I might have gone into the Anglo-Parisian
society of that day. One house was interesting to me, that of
Thackeray's mother, Mrs. Carmichael Smith. Her second husband, the
major, was still living, and she was a vigorous and majestic elderly
lady. She talked to me about her son, and his pursuit of art, but I do
not remember that she told me anything that the public has not since
learned from other sources. I soon discovered that she had very decided
views on the subject of religion, and that she looked even upon
Unitarians with reprobation, especially as they might be infidels in
disguise. My own subsequent experience of the world has led me to
perceive that, when infidels wear a cloak, they generally put on a more
useful and fashionable one than that of Unitarianism--they assume the
religion that can best help them to get on in the world. However, I was
not going to argue such a point with a lady who was considerably my
senior, and I was constantly in expectation of being examined about my
own religious views, knowing that it would be impossible for me to give
satisfactory answers. I therefore decided that it would be better to
keep out of Mrs. Carmichael Smith's way, and learned afterwards that she
had a reputation for asserting the faith that was in her, and for
expressing her disapproval of everybody who believed less. For my part,
I confess to a cowardly dread of elderly religious Englishwomen. They
have examined me many a time, and I have never come out of the ordeal
with satisfaction, either to them or to myself.

Thackeray's three daughters were in Paris at that time. I remember Miss
Thackeray quite distinctly. She struck me as a young lady of uncommon
sense and penetration, and it was not at all a surprise to me when she
afterwards became distinguished in literature. Thackeray himself was in
London, so I did not meet him.

I went occasionally in the evening to see that remarkable woman, Madame
Mohl. She was the oddest-looking little figure, with her original
notions about toilette, to which she was by no means indifferent. In the
year 1855 she still considered herself a very young woman, and indeed
was so, relatively to the great age she was destined to attain. After I
had been about six weeks in Paris, her husband gave me the first bit of
really valuable encouragement about speaking French that I had received
from any one.

"Can you follow what is said by others?"

"Yes, easily."

"Very well; then you may be free from all anxiety about speaking--you
will certainly speak in due time."

An eccentric but thoroughly manly and honest Englishman, named Scholey,
was staying at the Hôtel du Louvre at the same time with Captain
Turnbull. He was an old bachelor, and looked upon marriage as a snare;
but I learned afterwards that he had been in love at an earlier period
of his existence, and that the engagement had been broken off by the
friends of the young lady, because Scholey combined the two great
defects of honesty and thinking for himself in religious matters. So
long as people prefer sneaks and hypocrites to straightforward
characters like Scholey, such men are likely to be kept out of polite
society. A dishonest man will profess any opinion that you please, or
that is likely to please you, so long as it will advance his interest.
If, therefore, a lover runs the risk of breaking off a marriage rather
than turn hypocrite, it is clear that his sense of honor has borne a
crucial test.

  "I had not loved thee, dear, so much,
  Loved I not honor more!"

Scholey spoke French fluently, and, as he lived on the edge of England,
he often crossed over into France. I deeply regret not to have seen much
more of him. One of his acts of kindness, in 1855, was to take me to see
his old friend William Wyld, the painter, with whom I soon became
acquainted, and who is still one of my best and most attached friends.
Wyld lived and worked at that time in the same studio, in the Rue
Blanche, where he is still living and working in this present year
(1887), an octogenarian with the health and faculties of a man of fifty.

There was, in those days, an Indian staying at the Hôtel du Louvre, who
spoke English very well, but not French, so he was working at French
diligently with a master. This Indian was always called "the Prince" in
the hotel, though he was not a prince at all, and never pretended to be
one, but disclaimed the title whenever he had a chance. He lived rather
expensively, but without the least ostentation, and had very quiet
manners. He progressed well with his French studies, but did not stay
long enough to master the language. I was very much interested in him,
as a young man is in all that is strange and a little romantic. He
talked about India with great apparent frankness, saying, that naturally
the Indians desired national independence, but were too much divided
amongst themselves to be likely to attain it in our time. The Mutiny
broke out rather more than a year afterwards, and then I remembered
these conversations.

"The Prince" had some precious and curious things with him, which he
showed me; but his extreme dislike to attracting attention made him
dress quite plainly at all times, especially when he went out, which was
usually in a small brougham. Now and then an English official, from
India, or some military officer, would call upon him, and sometimes they
spoke Arabic or Hindostanee.

There was a lady at the hotel who has always remained in my memory as
one of the most extraordinary human beings I ever met. She was an
Italian, good-looking, yet neither pretty nor handsome, and, above all,
intelligent-looking. She dressed with studiously quiet taste, and used
to dine at the _table d'hôte_ with the rest of us. Besides her native
Italian, she spoke French and English with surprising perfection, and
her manners were so modest, so unexceptionable in every way, that no one
not in the secret would or could have suspected her real business, which
was to secure a succession of temporary husbands in the most respectable
manner, and without leaving the hotel. Her linguistic accomplishments
gave her a wide field of choice, and representatives of various nations
succeeded each other at irregular but never very long intervals. As I
shall be dead when this is published, perhaps it may be as well to say
that I was not one of the series. The reader may believe this when he
remembers that I was very economical for the time being, in consequence
of the loss on my book of poems. After a while my French teacher
informed me that "the Prince" had been caught by the fair Italian, who
established herself quietly somewhere in his suite of rooms. People did
not think this very wrong in a Mahometan, but after his departure from
Paris I happened to be studying some old Italian religious pictures in
the Louvre, and suddenly became aware that the same lady was looking at
a Perugino near me. This time she was with the Prince's successor,--a
most respectable English gentleman, and so far as absolute correctness
of outward appearance went, there was not a more presentable couple in
the galleries. It is my opinion that she succeeded more by her good
manners and quiet way of dressing than by anything else. She must have
been a real lady, who had fallen into that way of life in consequence of
a reverse of fortune.

After a while I came to the conclusion that I was too much with English
people at the Hôtel du Louvre, and an incident occurred which altered
the whole course of my future life, and is the reason why I am now
writing this book in France. I had been up late one night at the Opera,
and the next morning rose an hour later than usual. An American came
into the breakfast-room of the hotel and found me taking my chocolate.
Had I risen only half-an-hour earlier, I should have got through that
cup of chocolate and been already out in the streets before the American
came down. To have missed him would have been never to know my wife,
never even to see her face, as the reader will perceive in the sequel,
and the consequences of not marrying her would have been incalculable.
One of them is certain in my own mind. The modest degree of literary
reputation that makes this autobiography acceptable from a publisher's
point of view has been won slowly and arduously. It has been the result
of long and steadfast labor, and there is no merely personal motive that
would have ever made me persevere. Consequently, the existence of this
volume, and any meaning that now belongs to the name on its title page,
are due to my getting up late that morning in the Hôtel du Louvre.

The American and I being alone in the breakfast-room, and shamefully
late, were drawn together by the sympathy created by an identical
situation, and began to talk. He gave some reasons for being in Paris,
and I gave mine, which was to learn French. We then agreed that to get
accustomed to the use of a foreign language the first thing was to
surround ourselves with it entirely, and that this could not be done in
a cosmopolitan place like the Hôtel du Louvre.

"I have a French friend," the American said, "who could give you the
address of some purely French hotel where you would not hear a syllable
of English."

After breakfast he kindly took me to see this friend, who was a merchant
sitting in a pretty and tidy counting-house all in green and new oak.
The merchant spoke English (he had lived in America) and said, "I know
exactly what you want,--a quiet little French hotel in the Champs
Élysées where you can have clean rooms and a well-kept _table d'hôte_."
He wrote me the address on a card, and I went to look at the place.

The hotel, which exists no longer, was in the Avenue Montaigne. It
suited my tastes precisely, being extremely quiet, as it looked upon a
retired garden, and the rooms were perfectly clean. There was only one
story above the ground-floor, and here I took a bedroom and sitting-room
looking upon the garden. The house was kept by a widow who had very good
manners, and was, in her own person, a pleasant example of the
cleanliness that characterized the house. I learned afterwards (not from
herself) that she had been a lady reduced to poor circumstances by the
loss of her husband, and that her relations being determined that she
should do something for her living, had advanced some money on condition
that she set up an establishment. Having no experience in hotel-keeping,
she soon dissipated the little capital and lived afterwards on a
pittance in the strictest retirement.

When I took my rooms the small hotel seemed modestly prosperous. There
were about a dozen people at the _table d'hôte_, but they did not all
stay in the house. We had an officer in the army who had brought his
young provincial wife to Paris, a beautiful but remarkably unintelligent
person, and there were other people who might be taken as fair specimens
of the better French _bourgeoisie_. The most interesting person in the
hotel was an old white-headed gentleman whose name I may give, Victor
Ouvrard, a nephew of the famous Ouvrard who had been a great contractor
for military clothes and accoutrements under Napoleon I. Victor Ouvrard
was living on a pension given by a wealthy relation, and doing what he
could to push a hopeless claim on Napoleon III. for several millions of
francs due by the first Emperor to his uncle. I know nothing about the
great contractor except the curious fact that he remained in prison for
a long time rather than give up a large sum of money to the Government,
saying that by the mere sacrifice of his liberty he was earning a
handsome income. The nephew was what we call a gentleman, a model of
good manners and delicate sentiments. He would have made an excellent
character for a novelist, with his constantly expressed regret that he
had not a speciality.

"Si j'avais une spécialité!" he would say, as he tapped his snuff-box
and looked up wistfully to the ceiling--"si j'avais seulement une
spécialité!" He felt himself humiliated by the necessity for accepting
his little pension, and still entertained a chimerical hope that if the
Emperor did not restore the millions that were due, he might at least
bestow upon him enough for independence in his last years. There had
been some slight indications of a favorable turn in the Emperor's mind,
but they came to nothing. Meanwhile M. Victor Ouvrard lived on with
strict economy, brushing his old coats till they were threadbare, and
never allowing himself a vehicle in the streets of Paris. He was an
excellent walker, and we explored a great part of the town together on
foot. He kindly took patience with my imperfect French, and often gently
corrected me. The long conversations I had with M. Ouvrard on all sorts
of subjects, in addition to my daily lessons from masters, got me
forward with surprising rapidity. I observed a strict rule of abstinence
from English, never calling on any English people, with the single
exception of Mr. Wyld, the painter, nor reading any English books. When
M. Ouvrard was not with me in the streets of Paris, I got up
conversations with anybody who would talk to me, merely to get practice,
and in my own room I wrote French every day. Besides this, for physical
exercise, I became a pupil in a gymnasium, and worked there regularly.
One thing seemed strange in the way they treated us. When we were as hot
as possible with exercise, at the moment of leaving off and changing our
dress, men came to the dressing-rooms to sponge us with ice-cold water.
They said it did nothing but good, and certainly I never felt any bad
effects from the practice.

The ice-cold water reminds me of a ridiculous incident that occurred in
the garden of the Tuileries. M. Ouvrard and I were walking together in
the direction of the palace, when we saw a Frenchman going towards it
with his eyes fixed on the edifice. He was so entirely absorbed by his
architectural studies that he did not notice the basin just in front of
him. The stone lip of the basin projects a little on the land side, so
that if you catch your foot in it no recovery is possible. This he did,
and was thrown violently full length upon the thin ice, which offered
little resistance to his weight. The basin is not more than a yard deep,
so he got out and made his way along the Rue de Rivoli, his clothes
streaming on the causeway. Some spectators laughed, and others smiled,
but M. Ouvrard remained perfectly grave, saying that he could not
understand how people could be so unfeeling as to laugh at a misfortune,
for the man would probably take cold. Perhaps the reader thinks he had
no sense of humor. Yes, he had; he was very facetious and a hearty
laugher, but his delicacy of feeling was so refined that he could not
laugh at an accident that seemed to call rather for his sympathy.

A French gentleman who was staying at the hotel had a friend who came
occasionally to see him, and this friend was an amiable and interesting
talker. He had at the same time much natural politeness, and seeing that
I wanted to practise conversation he indulged me by patiently listening
to my bad French, and giving me his own remarkably pure and masterly
French in return. His name, I learned, was Gindriez, and he was living
in Paris by the tolerance of the Emperor. He had been Prefect of the
Doubs under the second Republic, and had resigned his prefecture as soon
as the orders emanating from the executive Government betrayed the
intention of establishing the Empire. As a member of the National
Assembly he had voted against the Bonapartists, and was one of the few
representatives who were concerting measures against Napoleon when he
forestalled them by striking first. After the _coup d'état_ M. Gindriez
fled to Belgium, but returned to Paris for family reasons, and was
permitted to remain on condition that he did not actively set himself in
opposition to the Empire. M. Gindriez looked upon his own political
career as ended, though he could have made it prosperous enough, and
even brilliant, by serving the power of the day. A more flexible
instrument had been put into his prefecture, a new legislative body had
been elected to give a false appearance of parliamentary government, and
an autocratic system had been established which M. Gindriez believed
destined to a prolonged duration, though he felt sure that it could not
last forever. Subsequent events have proved the correctness of his
judgment. The Empire outlasted the lifetime of M. Gindriez, but it did
not establish itself permanently.

It was a peculiarity of mine in early life (which I never thought about
at the time, but which has become evident in the course of this
autobiography) to prefer the society of elderly men. In London I had
liked to be with Mackay, Robinson the engraver, and Leslie, all
gray-headed men, and in Paris I soon acquired a strong liking for M.
Ouvrard, M. Gindriez, and Mr. Wyld. They were kind and open, and had
experience, therefore they were interesting; my uncles in Lancashire
had, no doubt, been kind in their own way, that is, in welcoming me to
their houses, but they were both excessively reserved. Being at that
time deeply interested in France, I was delighted to find a man like M.
Gindriez who could give me endless information. His chief interest in
life lay in French politics; art and literature being for him subjects
of secondary concern, but by no means of indifference, and the plain
truth is that he had a better and clearer conception of art than I
myself had in those days, or for long afterwards. There was also for me
a personal magnetism in M. Gindriez, which it was not easy to account
for then, but which is now quite intelligible to me. He had in the
utmost strength and purity the genuine heroic nature. I came to
understand this in after years, and believe that it impressed me from
the first. It is unnecessary to say more about this remarkable character
in this place, because the reader will hear much of him afterwards. It
is enough to say that I was attracted by his powers of conversation and
his evident tenderness of heart.

When we had become better acquainted, M. Gindriez invited me to spend an
evening at his house after dinner, and I went. He was living at that
time on a boulevard outside the first wall, which has since been
demolished. His _appartement_ was simply furnished, and not strikingly
different in any way from the usual dwellings of the Parisian middle
class. I had now been absent for some weeks from anything like a home,
and after living in hotels it was pleasant to find myself at a domestic
fireside. M. Gindriez had several children. The eldest was a girl of
sixteen, extremely modest and retiring, as a well-bred _jeune fille_
generally is in France, and there was another daughter, very pretty and
engaging, but scarcely more than a child; there were also two boys, the
eldest a very taciturn, studious lad, who was at that time at the
well-known college of Sainte Barbe. Their mother had been a woman of
remarkable beauty, and still retained enough of it to attract the eye of
a painter. She had also at times a certain unconscious grace and dignity
of pose that the great old Italian masters valued more than it is valued
now. M. Gindriez himself had a refined face, but my interest in him was
due almost entirely to the charm and ease of his conversation.

In writing an autobiography one ought to give impressions as they were
received at the time, and not as they may have been modified afterwards.
I am still quite able to recall the impression made upon me by the
eldest daughter in the beginning of 1856. I did not think her so pretty
as her sister, though she had a healthy complexion, with bright eyes and
remarkably beautiful teeth, whilst her slight figure was graceful and
well formed; but I well remember being pleased and interested by the
little glimpses I could get of her mind and character. It was a new sort
of character to me, and even in the tones of her voice there was
something that indicated a rare union of strength and tenderness. The
tenderness, of course, was not for me, a foreign temporary guest in
those days, but I found it out by the girl's way of speaking to her
father. I perceived, too, under an exterior of cheerfulness, rising at
times to gayety, a nature that was really serious, as if saddened by a
too early experience of trouble.

The truth was, that in consequence of her father's checkered career,
this girl of sixteen had passed through a much greater variety of
experience than most women have known at thirty. Her mother, too, had
for some time suffered almost continuously from ill-health, so that the
eldest daughter had been really the active mistress of the house. Her
courage and resolution had been put to the test in various ways that I
knew nothing about then, but the effects of an uncommon experience were
that deepening of the young nature which made it especially interesting
to me. Afterwards I discovered that Eugénie Gindriez had read more and
thought more than other girls of her age. This might have been almost an
evil in a quiet life, but hers had not been a quiet life.

We soon became friends in spite of the French conventional idea that a
girl should not open her lips, but it did not occur to me that we were
likely ever to be anything more than friends. Had the idea occurred,
the obstacle of a difference in nationality would have seemed to me
absolutely insuperable. I thought of marriage at that time as a
possibility, but not of an international marriage. In fact, the
difficulties attending upon an international marriage are so
considerable, and the subsequent practical inconvenience so troublesome,
that only an ardently passionate and imprudent nature could overlook

I, for my part, left Paris without being aware that Mademoiselle
Gindriez had anything to do with my future destiny; but she, with a
woman's perspicacity, knew better. She thought it at least probable, if
not certain, that I should return after long years; she waited
patiently, and when at last I did return there was no need to tell on
what errand.

An incident occurred that might have been a partial revelation to me and
a clear one to her. Before my departure from Paris, M. Ouvrard said to
me that he had been told I was engaged to "une Française."

"What is her name?"--he mentioned another young lady. Now to this day I
remember that when he spoke of a French marriage as a possibility for me
I at once saw, mentally, a portrait of Eugénie Gindriez. However, as a
French marriage was _not_ a possibility, I thought no more of the



Specialities in painting.--Wyld's practice.--Projected voyage on the
Loire.--Birth of the Prince Imperial.--Scepticism about his inheritance
of the crown.--The Imperial family.--I return home.--Value of the French
language to me.

Being entirely absorbed in the study of French during my first visit to
Paris, I did little in the practice of art. My Lancashire neighbor, who
was studying in Paris, worked in Colin's atelier, and I have since
regretted that I did not at that time get myself entered there, the more
so that it was a decent and quiet place kept under the eye of the master
himself, who had long been accustomed to teaching. My friend had
certainly made good progress there. I was unfortunately influenced by
two erroneous ideas, one of them being that the studies of a
figure-painter could be of no use in landscape, [Footnote: This idea had
been strongly confirmed by Mr. Pettitt.] and the other that it was wiser
to be a specialist, and devote myself to landscape exclusively. It is
surprising that the notion of a limited speciality in painting should
have taken possession of me then, as in other matters I have never been
a narrow specialist, or had any tendency to become one.

The choice of a narrow speciality may be good in the industrial arts,
but it is not good in painting, for the reason that a painter may at any
time desire to include something in his picture which a specialist could
not deal with. To feel as if the world belonged to him a painter ought
to be able to paint everything he sees. There is another sense in which
speciality may be good: it may be good to keep to one of the graphic
arts in order to effect that intimate union between the man and his
instrument which is hardly possible on any other terms.

Wyld would have taught me landscape-painting if I had asked him, and I
did at a later period study water-color with him; but his practice in
oil did not suit me, for this reason: it was entirely tentative, he was
constantly demolishing his work, so that it was hard to see how a pupil
could possibly follow him. The advantage in working under his eye would
have been in receiving a great variety of sound artistic ideas; for few
painters know more about _art_ as distinguished from nature. However, by
mere conversation, Wyld has communicated to me a great deal of this
knowledge; and with regard to the practical advantages of painting like
him they would probably not have ensured me any better commercial
success, as his style of painting has now for a long time been
completely out of fashion.

My scheme in 1856 was to make a great slow boat voyage on the Loire,
with the purpose of collecting a quantity of sketches and studies in
illustration of that river; and my ardor in learning to speak French had
for an immediate motive the desire to make that voyage without an
interpreter. I have often regretted that this scheme was never carried
out. I have since done something of the same kind for the Saône, but my
situation is now entirely different. I am now obliged to make all my
undertakings _pay_, which limits them terribly, and almost entirely
prevents me from doing anything on a great scale. For example, these
pages are written within a few miles of Loire side; the river that flows
near my home is a tributary of the Loire; I have all the material outfit
necessary for a great boating expedition, and still keep the strength
and the will; but no publisher could prudently undertake the
illustration of a river so long as the Loire and so rich in material, on
the scale that I contemplated in 1856.

It is unnecessary to trouble the reader with my crude impressions of
European painting in the Universal Exhibition of that year. I no more
understood French art at that time than a Frenchman newly transplanted
to London can understand English art. The two schools require, in fact,
different mental adjustments. Our National Gallery had sufficiently
prepared me for the Louvre, which I visited very frequently; and there I
laid the foundations of a sort of knowledge which became of great use
many years afterwards, though for a long time there was nothing to show
for it.

No historical event of importance occurred during my stay in Paris,
except the birth of the Prince Imperial. I was awakened by the cannon at
the Invalides, and having been told that if there were more than
twenty-one guns the child would be a boy, I counted till the
twenty-second, and then fell asleep again. There existed, even then, the
most complete scepticism as to the transmission of the crown. Neither M.
Gindriez, nor any other intelligent Frenchman that I met, believed that
the newly born infant had the faintest chance of ever occupying the
throne of France. Before the child's birth I had seen his father and
mother and all his relations at the closing ceremony of the Universal
Exhibition, and thought them, with the exception of the Empress, a
common-looking set of people. They walked round the oblong arena in the
Palais de l'Industrie exactly as circus people do round the track at the
Hippodrome. The most interesting figure was old Jerome--interesting, not
for himself, as he was a nonentity, but as the brother of the most
famous conqueror since Caesar.

Being called back to England on a matter of business, I cut short my
stay in Paris, and arrived at Hollins without having advanced much as an
artist, but with an important linguistic acquirement. The value of
French to me from a professional point of view is quite incalculable.
The best French criticism on the fine arts is the most discriminating
and the most accurate in the world, at least when it is not turned aside
from truth by the national jealousy of England and the consequent
antipathy to English art. At the same time, there are qualities of
delicacy and precision in French prose which it was good for me to
appreciate, even imperfectly.



My first encampment in Lancashire.--Value of encamping as a part of
educational discipline.--Happy days in camp.--The natural and the
artificial in landscape.--Sir James Kay Shuttleworth's Exhibition
project.--I decline to take an active part in it.--His energetic and
laborious disposition.--Charlotte Brontë.--General Scarlett.

The Loire expedition having been abandoned for the year 1856, and the
Nile voyage put off indefinitely, I remained working in the north of
England, discouraged, as to literature, by the failure of the book of
verse, and without much encouragement for painting either; so the summer
of 1856 was not very fruitful in work of any kind.

Towards autumn, however, I took courage again, and determined to paint
from nature on the moors. This led to the first attempt at encamping.

It is wonderful what an influence the things we do in early life may
have on our future occupations. In 1886, exactly thirty years later, I
made the Saône expedition, for which two _absolutely essential_
qualifications were an intimate knowledge of the French language and a
practical acquaintance with encamping. The Roman who said that fifteen
years made a long space in human life would have appreciated the
importance of thirty, yet across all that space of time what I did in
1856 told just as effectually as if it had been done the year before.
_Moral_ (for any young man who may read this book): it is impossible to
say how important the deeds of twenty-one may turn out to have been when
we look back upon them in complete maturity. All we know about them is
that they are likely to be recognized in the future as far more
important than they seemed when they were in the present.

Encamping is now quite familiar to young Englishmen in connection with
boating excursions, and it has even been adopted in American pine
forests for the sake of health; but in 1856 only military men and a few
travellers knew anything about encampments. I was led into this art, or
amusement (for it is both), by a very natural transition. Here are the
three stages of it.

1. You want to paint from nature in uncertain weather, and you build a
hut for shelter.

2. The hut is at some distance from a house, and you do not like to
leave it, so you sleep in it.

3. The accommodation is found to be narrow, and it is unpleasant to have
one little room for everything, so you add a tent or two outside and
keep a man. Hence a complete little encampment.

Everybody considered me extremely eccentric in 1856 because I was led
into encamping; but it was an excellent thing for me in various ways. A
young man given up to such pursuits as literature and art needs a closer
contact with common realities than aesthetic studies can give. The
physical work attendant upon encamping, and the constant attention that
_must_ be given to such pressing necessities as shelter and food, give
exactly that contact with reality that educates us in readiness of
resource, and they have the incalculable advantage of making one learn
the difference between the necessary and the superfluous. I look back
upon early camping experiments with satisfaction as an experience of the
greatest educational value. Even now, in my sixth decade, I can sleep
under canvas and arrange all the details of a camp with indescribable
enjoyment, and (what is perhaps better still) I can put up cheerfully
with the very humblest accommodation in country inns, provided only that
they are tolerably clean.

The arrangements of my hut on the moor near Burnley have been described
in detail in "The Painter's Camp," so it is unnecessary to give a
minute account of them in this place. I was entirely alone, except
the company of a dog, and had no defence but a revolver. That month
of solitude on the wild hills was a singularly happy time, so happy
that it is not easy, without some reflection, to account for such
a degree of felicity. I was young, and the brisk mountain air
exhilarated me. I walked out every day on the heather, which I
loved as if my father and mother had been a brace of grouse.
Then there was the steady occupation of painting a big foreground study
from nature, and the necessary camp work that would have kept morbid
ideas at a distance if any such had been likely to trouble me. As for
the solitude, and the silence broken only by wind and rain, their effect
was not depressing in the least. Towns are depressing to me--even Paris
has that effect--but how is it possible to feel otherwise than cheerful
when you have leagues of fragrant heather all around you, and blue
Yorkshire hills on the high and far horizon?

A noteworthy effect of this month on the moors was that on returning to
Hollins, which was situated amongst trim green pastures and plantations,
everything seemed so astonishingly artificial. It came with the force of
a discovery. From that day to this the natural and the artificial in
landscape have been, for me, as clearly distinguished as a wild boar
from a domestic pig. My strong preference was, and still is, for wild
nature. The unfortunate effects of this preference, as regards success
in landscape-painting, will claim our attention later.

The grand scheme for an Exhibition of Art Treasures at Manchester, in
1857, suggested to Sir James Kay Shuttleworth the idea of having an
Exhibition at Burnley in the same year to illustrate the history of
Lancashire. He thought that a certain proportion of the visitors to the
Manchester Art Treasures would probably be induced to visit our
little-known but prosperous and rising town. His scheme was of a very
comprehensive character, and included a pictorial illustration of
Lancashire. There would have been pictures of Lancashire scenery as well
as portraits of men who have distinguished themselves in the history of
the county, and whose fame has, in many instances, gone far beyond its
borders. All the mechanical inventions that have enriched Lancashire
would also have been represented.

Having thought this over in his own mind, Sir James wanted an active
lieutenant to aid him in carrying his idea into execution, and as he
knew me he asked me to be the practical manager of the Exhibition. I was
to travel all over the county, see all the people of importance, and
borrow, whenever possible, such of their pictures and other relics as
might be considered illustrative of Lancashire history. Sir James had
many influential friends, I myself had a few, and it seemed to him that
by devoting my time to the scheme heartily I might make it a success. My
reward was to be simply a very interesting experience, as I should see
almost all the interesting things and people in my native county.

Sir James did his best to entice me, and as he was a very able man with
much knowledge of the world, he might possibly have succeeded had I not
been more than usually wary. Luckily, I felt the whole weight of my
inexperience, and said to myself: "Whatever we do it is _certain_ that
mistakes will be committed, and very probable that some things will be
damaged. All mistakes will be laid to my door. Then the Exhibition
itself may be a failure, and it is disagreeable to be conspicuously
connected with a failure." I next consulted one or two experienced
friends, who said, "Sir James will have the credit of any success there
may be, and you, as a young useful person, comparatively unknown, will
get very little, whilst at the same time you will be burdened with heavy
anxieties and responsibilities." I therefore firmly declined, and as Sir
James could not find any other suitable assistant, his project was never

It seems odd that the existence of this Lancashire Exhibition should
have depended on the "yes" or "no" of a lad of twenty-three; yet so it
did, for if I had consented the scheme would certainly have been carried
into execution, whether successfully or not it is impossible to say. The
enterprise would have greatly interested and occupied me, for I have a
natural turn for organizing things, being fond of order and details, and
I should have learned a great deal and seen many people and many houses;
still, the negative decision was the wiser.

Sir James Kay Shuttleworth was certainly one of the remarkable people I
have known. At that time he was unpopular in Burnley on account of his
separation from his wife, who had been the richest heiress in the
neighborhood, the owner of a fine estate and a grand old hall at
Gawthorpe. People thought she had been ill-used. Of this I really know
(of my own knowledge) absolutely nothing, and shall print no hearsays.

Sir James himself was an ambitious and very hard-working man, who passed
through life with no desire for repose. Public education, in the days
before Board Schools, was his especial subject, and he owed his
baronetcy to his efforts in that cause. The Tory aristocracy of the
neighborhood disliked him for his liberal principles in politics, and
for his brilliant marriage, which came about because the heiress of
Gawthorpe took an interest in his own subjects. Perhaps, too, they were
not quite pleased with his too active and restless intellect. He made
one or two attempts to win a position as a novelist, but in connection
with literature future generations will know him chiefly as the kind
host of Charlotte Brontë, who visited him at Gawthorpe.

I regret now that I never met Charlotte Brontë, as she was quite a near
neighbor of ours; in fact, I could have ridden or walked over to Haworth
at any time. That village is just on the northeast border of the great
Boulsworth moors, where my hut was pitched. At the time of my encampment
there Charlotte Brontë had been dead about eighteen months. She was
hardly a contemporary of mine, as she was born seventeen years before
me, and died so prematurely; still, when I think that "Jane Eyre" was
written within a very few miles of Hollins, [Footnote: I have not access
to an ordnance map, but believe that the distance was hardly more than
eight miles across the moors. Haworth is only twelve miles from Burnley
by road.] and that for several years, during which I rode or walked
every day, Charlotte Brontë was living just on the other side of the
moors visible from my home, I am vexed with myself for not having had
assurance enough to go to see her. Since those days a hundred ephemeral
reputations have risen only to be quenched forever in the great ocean of
the world's oblivion, but the fame of "Jane Eyre" is as brilliant as it
was when the book astonished all reading England forty years ago.
[Footnote: I am writing in 1888.]

Amongst the distinguished people belonging to the neighborhood of
Burnley was General Scarlett, who led the charge of the Heavy Cavalry at
Balaclava,--brilliant feat of arms much more satisfactory to military
men than the fruitless sacrifice of the Light Brigade, which, however,
is incomparably better known. I recollect General Scarlett chiefly
because he set me thinking about a very important question in political
economy. I happened to be sitting next him at dinner when the talk
turned upon wine, and the General said, "The Radicals find fault with
the economy of the Queen's household because they say that the wine
drunk there costs sixteen thousand a year. I don't know what it costs,
but that is of no consequence." I then timidly inquired if he did not
think it was a waste of money, on which, in a kind way, he explained to
me that "if the money were paid and put into circulation it did not
signify what it had been spent upon." I knew there was something
fallacious in this, but my own ideas were not clear upon the subject,
and it did not become me to set up an argument with a distinguished old
officer like the General. Of course the right answer is that there is
always a responsibility for spending money so as to be of use not only
to the tradesman who pockets it, _but to the consumers also_. If the
wine gave health and wisdom it would hardly be possible to spend too
much upon it.


I visit the homes of my forefathers at Hamerton, Wigglesworth, and
Hellifield Peel.--Attainder and execution of Sir Stephen Hamerton.--
Return of Hellifield Peel to the family.--Sir Richard.--The Hamertons
distinguished only for marrying heiresses.--Another visit to the Peel,
when I see my father's cousin.--Nearness of Hellifield Peel and Hollins.

In one of these years (the exact date is of no consequence) I visited
the old houses in Yorkshire which had belonged to our family in former
times. The place we take our name from, Hamerton, belonged to Richard de
Hamerton in 1170. I found the old hall still in existence, or a part of
it, and though the present building evidently does not date from the
twelfth century, it dates from the occupation of my forefathers. At the
time of my visit there was some very massive oak wainscot still

The situation is, to my taste, one of the pleasantest in England. The
house is On a hill, from which it looks down on the valley of Slaidburn.
Steep green pastures slope to the flat meadows in the lower ground,
which are watered by a stream. There are many places of that character
in Yorkshire, and they have never lost their old charm for me. I cannot
do without a hill, and a stream, and a green field. [Footnote: Since
this was written I have been compelled to do without them by the
necessity for living close to an art-centre, a necessity against which I
rebelled as long as I could. Even to-day, however, I would joyously give
all Paris for such a place as Hollins or Hamerton (as I knew them), with
their streams and pastures, and near or distant hills.]

My forefathers lived at Hamerton, more or less, from a time of which
there is no record down to the reign of Henry VIII., but their principal
seat in the time of their greatest prosperity was Wigglesworth Hall. I
arrived there in time to see masons demolishing the building. One or two
Gothic arched door-ways still remained, but were probably destroyed the
next week. Just enough, of the house was preserved to shelter the
occupant of the farm.

For me this unnecessary destruction is always distressing, even in
foreign countries. It is excusable in towns, where land is dear; but in
the country the site of an old hall is of such trifling value that it
might surely be permitted to fall peaceably to ruin.

The family of De Arches, to which Wigglesworth originally belonged, bore
for arms _gules, three arches argent_. The coincidence struck me
forcibly when I saw the Gothic arches still standing amongst the ruins.

The place came into the possession of our family by the marriage of Adam
de Hamerton, in the fourteenth century, with Katharine, heiress of Elias
de Knoll of Knolsmere. His father, Reginald de Knoll, had married
Beatrix de Arches, heiress of the manor of Wigglesworth. These estates,
with others too numerous to mention, remained in our family till they
were lost by the attainder of Sir Stephen Hamerton, who joined the
insurrection known as "The Pilgrimage of Grace" in the reign of Henry

During these excursions to old houses I visited Hellifield Peel, still
belonging to the chief of our little clan. The Peel is an old border
tower, embattled, and with walls of great thickness. It is large enough
to make a tolerably spacious, but not very convenient, modern house, and
my great uncle spoiled its external appearance by inserting London sash
windows in the gray old fortress wall. On this occasion I did not see
the interior, not desiring to claim a relationship that had fallen into
abeyance for half-a-century; yet I felt the most intense curiosity about
it, and for more than twenty years afterwards I dreamed from time to
time I got inside the Peel, and saw quite a museum of knightly armor
[Footnote: The first Sir Stephen Hamerton was made a knight banneret in
Scotland by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, in the reign of Edward IV. He
married Isabel, daughter of Sir William Plumpton, of Plumpton, and a
letter of his is still extant in the Plumpton correspondence.] and other
memorials which, I regret to say, have not been preserved in reality.

Hellifield Peel was built by Laurence Hamerton in 1440. When the second
Sir Stephen was executed for high treason and his possessions
confiscated, the manor of Hellifield was preserved by a settlement for
his mother during her life. After that it was granted by the king to one
George Browne, of whom we know nothing positively except that he lived
at Calais, and after changing hands several times it came back into the
Hamerton family by a fine levied in the time of Queen Elizabeth. The
owners then passed the manor to John Hamerton, a nephew of Sir Stephen.
The attainted knight left an only son, Henry, who is said to have been
interred in York Minster on the day when his father was beheaded in
London. Whitaker thought it "not improbable that he died of a broken
heart in consequence of the ruin of his family." Henry left no male

The career of Sir Stephen seems to have been doomed to misfortune, for
there were influences that might have saved him. He had been in the
train of the Earl of Cumberland, the same who afterwards held Skipton
Castle against the rebels. Whitaker says "he forsook his patron in the
hour of trial." This seems rather a harsh way of judging a Catholic, who
believed himself to be fighting for God and His spoliated Church against
a tyrannical king. I notice that in our own day the French Republican
Government cannot take the smallest measure against the religious
houses, cannot even require them to obey the ordinary law of the
country, but there is immediately an outcry in all the English
newspapers; yet the measures of the Third Republic have been to those of
Henry VIII. what that same Third Republic is to the First. All that can
be fairly urged against Sir Stephen Hamerton is that "after having
availed himself of the King's pardon, he revolted a second time."

There is nothing else, that I remember, in the history of our family
that is likely to have any interest for readers who do not belong to it.
Sir Richard Hamerton, of Hamerton, married in 1461 a sister of the
bloody Lord Clifford who was slain at Towton Field, and that is the
nearest connection that we have ever had with any well-known historical

Through marriages we are descended, in female lines, from many
historical personages, [Footnote: Some in the extinct Peerage, and
others belonging to royal families of England and France which have
since lost their thrones by revolution.]--a matter of no interest to the
reader, though I acknowledge enough of the ancestral sentiment to have
my own interest in them quickened by my descent from them.

Another consequence of belonging to a well-connected old family was that
I sometimes, in my youth, met with people who were related to me, and
who were aware of it, although the relationship was very distant. I
recollect, for instance, that one of the officers in our militia
regiment remembered his descent from our family, and though I had never
seen him before it was a sort of _lien_ between us.

The Hamertons do not seem to have distinguished themselves in anything
except marrying heiresses, and in that they were remarkably successful.
At first a moderately wealthy family, they became immensely wealthy
by the accumulation of heiresses' estates, and after being ruined
by confiscation they began the same process over again; but being
at the same time either imprudent or careless, or too much burdened
with children (my great-grandfather had a dozen brothers and sisters),
they have not kept their lands. One of my uncles said to me that
the Hamertons won property in no other way than by marriage, and
that they were almost incapable of retaining it; he himself had the one
talent of his race, but was an exception to their incapacity. In justice
to our family I may add that we are said to make indulgent husbands and
fathers,--two characters incompatible with avarice, and sometimes even
with prudence when the circumstances are not easy.

On a later occasion I made a little tour in Craven with a friend who had
a tandem, and we stopped at Hellifield, where I sketched the Peel.
Whilst I sat at work the then representative of the family, my father's
first cousin, came out upon the lawn; but I did not speak to him, nor
did he take any notice of me. He was a fine, hale man of about eighty.

The _nearness_ of Hellifield to Hollins was brought home to me very
strongly on that occasion. It was late afternoon when I finished my
sketch, and yet, as we had very good horses, we reached home easily the
same evening. So near and yet so far! As I have said already in the
third chapter, my grandfather's wife and children never even saw his
brother's house, and during my own youth the place had seemed as distant
and unreal as one of the old towers that I had read about in northern
poetry and romance.



Expedition to the Highlands in 1857.--Kindness of the Marquis of
Breadalbane and others.--Camp life, its strong and peculiar
attraction.--My servant.--Young Helliwell.--Scant supplies in the
camp.--Nature of the camp.--Necessity for wooden floors in a bad
climate.--Double-hulled boats.--Practice of landscape-painting.--Changes
of effect.--Influences that governed my way of study in those
days.--Attractive character of the Scottish Highlands.--Their scenery
not well adapted for beginners.--My intense love of it.

In the year 1857 I made the expedition to the Highlands which afterwards
became well known in consequence of my book about it.

The Marquis of Breadalbane (the first Marquis) granted me in the kindest
way permission to pitch my camp wherever I liked on his extensive
estate, and at the same time gave me an invitation to Taymouth Castle.
The Duke of Argyll gave me leave to encamp on an island in Loch Awe that
belonged to him, and Mr. Campbell of Monzie granted leave to encamp on
his property on the Cladich side of the lake. I ought to have gone to
Taymouth to thank Lord Breadalbane and accept the hospitality he had
offered, but it happened that he had not fixed a date, so I avoided
Taymouth. This was wrong, but young men are generally either forward or
backward. The Marquis afterwards expressed himself, to a third person,
as rather hurt that I had not been to see him.

My advice to any young man who reads this book is always to _show_ that
he appreciates kindness when it is offered. There is not very much of it
in the world, but there is some, and it is not enough merely to feel
grateful; we ought to accept kindness with visible satisfaction. One of
my regrets now is to have sometimes failed in this, usually out of mere
shyness, particularly where great people were concerned. Here is another
instance. When going to Inverary on the steamer, I made the acquaintance
of a very pleasant Scotchman, who turned out to be the Laird of Lamont,
on Loch Fyne side. He took an interest in my artistic projects, and very
kindly invited me to go and see him. Nothing would have been easier,--I
was as free as a fish, and might have sailed down Loch Fyne any day on
my own boat,--yet I never went.

The book called "A Painter's Camp" gave a sufficient account of my first
summer in the Highlands, which was not distinguished by much variety, as
I remained almost exclusively at Loch Awe; but the novelty of camp life
_by choice_ seems to have interested many readers, though they must have
been already perfectly familiar with camp life _by necessity_ in the
practice of armies and the experience of African travellers. The true
explanation of my proceedings is the intense and peculiar charm that
there is about encamping in a wild and picturesque country. I had tasted
this on the Lancashire moors, and I wanted to taste it again. Just now,
whilst writing, I have on my table a letter from an English official in
Africa, who tells me of his camp life. He says: "The wagon was generally
my sleeping quarter. I had two tents and a riding horse, and very seldom
slept in a house or put the horse in a stable. _Such a life was ever,
and is now, to me the acme of bliss. No man can be said to have really
lived who has not camped out in some such way, and I know well that you
especially will say Amen! to this sentiment._ Since 1848, I have lived
altogether for about six years in the open, and have never caught a
cold. Only, through imprudent uncovering of the head, once in 1855,
whilst drawing the topography of a mountain, I was struck down by

The reasons for this intense attraction in camp life are probably
complex. One certainly is that it brings us nearer to nature, but a
still deeper reason may be that _it revives obscure associations that
belong to the memory of the race, and not to that of the individual_.
Camping is in the same category with yachting, fishing, and the
chase,--a thing practised by civilized man for his amusement, because it
permits him to resume the habits of less civilized generations. The
delight of encamping, for a young man in vigorous health, is the
enforced activity in the open air that is inseparably connected with it.

I had only one servant, a young man from the moorland country on the
borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire, perfectly well adapted to life in
the Highlands. He had excellent health, and was physically a good
specimen of our north-English race. It was a pleasure to see his tall
straight figure going over the roughest ground with no appearance of
hurry, but in fact with such unostentatious swiftness that few sportsmen
could follow him. I was myself active enough then, and accustomed to
wild places, but he always restrained himself when we did any mountain
work together. He afterwards became well known as the "Thursday" of the
"Painter's Camp," but I may give his real name here, which was Young
Helliwell. Temperate, hardy, and extremely prudent, not to be caught by
any allurements of vulgar pleasure, he lived wisely in youth, and will
probably have fewer regrets than most people in his old age.

Young had studied the art of simple cookery at Hollins, so he was able
to keep me tolerably well when we happened to have anything to eat,
which was not always. There were no provision shops on Lochaweside;
Inverary was at some distance in one direction and Oban in the other,
and as I had never given a thought to feeding before, I was an utterly
incompetent provider. The consequence was that we fasted like monks,
except that our abstinence was not on any regular principle; in fact,
sometimes we had so little to eat for days together that we began to
feel quite weak. This gave us no anxiety, and we only laughed at it,
undereating being always more conducive to good spirits than its
opposite, provided that it is not carried too far.

The camp consisted of three structures,--my hut, which was made of
wooden panels with plate-glass windows; a tent for Young, with a wooden
floor, and wooden sides to the height of three feet; lastly, a military
bell-tent that served for storing things. My hut was both painting-room
and habitation, but it would have been better to have had a separate
painting-room on rather a larger scale. Mr. Herkomer afterwards imitated
the hut for painting from nature in Wales, and he introduced a clever
improvement by erecting his hut on a circular platform with a ring-rail,
so that it could be turned at will to any point of the compass. Young's
tent was, in fact, also a kind of hut with a square tent for a roof.

In a climate like that of the West Highlands, wooden floors at least are
almost indispensable; but a camp so arranged ceases to be a travelling
camp unless you have men and horses in your daily service like a Shah of
Persia. It may be moved two or three times in a summer.

I have always had a fancy for double-hulled boats (now generally called
catamarans), and had two of them on Loch Awe. This eccentricity was
perhaps fortunate, as my boats were extremely safe, each hull being
decked from stem to stern and divided internally into water-tight
compartments. They could therefore ship a sea with perfect impunity, and
although often exposed to sudden and violent squalls, we were never in
any real danger. One of my catamarans would beat to windward tolerably
well, but she did not tack quickly, and occasionally missed stays.
However, these defects were of slight importance in a boat not intended
for racing, and small enough to be always quite manageable with oars.
Since those days I have much improved the construction of catamarans, so
that their evolutions are now quicker and more certain. They are
absolutely the only sailing-boats that combine lightness with safety and

As to the practice of landscape-painting, I very soon found that the
West Highlands were not favorable to painting from nature on account of
the rapid changes of effect. Those changes are so revolutionary that
they often metamorphose all the oppositions in a natural picture in the
course of a single minute. I began by planting my hut on the island
called Inishail, in the middle of Loch Awe, with the intention of
painting Ben Cruachan from nature, but soon discovered that there were
fifty Cruachans a day, each effacing its predecessor, so my picture got
on badly. If I painted what was before me, the result was like playing
successfully a bar or two from each of several different musical
compositions in the vain hope of harmonizing them into one. If I tried
to paint my first impression, it became increasingly difficult to do
that when the mountain itself presented novel and striking aspects.

Every artist who reads this will now consider the above remarks no
better than a commonplace, but in the year 1857 English
landscape-painting was going through a peculiar phase. There was, in
some of the younger artists, a feeling of dissatisfaction with the
slight and superficial work too often produced from hasty water-color
sketches, and there was an honest desire for more substantial truth
coupled with the hope of attaining it by working directly from nature.
My critical master, Mr. Ruskin, saw in working from nature the only hope
for the regeneration of art, and my practical master, Mr. Pettitt,
considered it the height of artistic virtue to sit down before nature
and work on the details of a large picture for eight or ten weeks
together. I was eagerly anxious to do what was considered most right,
and quite willing to undergo any degree of inconvenience. The truth is,
perhaps, that (like other devotees) I rather enjoyed the sacrifice of
convenience for what seemed to me, at that time, the sacred cause of
veracity in art.

The Highlands of Scotland were intensely attractive to me, as being a
kind of sublimation of the wild northern landscape that I had already
loved in my native Lancashire; but the Highlands were not well chosen as
a field for self-improvement in the art of painting. A student ought not
to choose the most changeful of landscapes, but the least changeful; not
the Highlands or the English Lake District, but the dullest landscape he
can find in the south or the east of England. Norfolk would have been a
better country for me, as a student, than Argyllshire. If, however, any
prudent adviser had told me to go to dull scenery in those days, it
would have been like telling a passionate lover of great capitals to go
and live in a narrow little provincial town. I hated dull, unromantic
scenery, and at the same time had the passion for mountains, lakes, wild
moorland, and everything that was rough and uncultivated,--a passion so
predominant that it resembled rather the natural instinct of an animal
for its own habitat than the choice of a reasonable being. I loved
everything in the Highlands, even the bad weather; I delighted in clouds
and storms, and have never experienced any natural influences more in
harmony with the inmost feelings of my own nature than those of a great
lake's dark waters when they dashed in spray on the rocks of some lonely
islet and my boat flew past in the gray and dreary gloaming.

"Le paysage," says a French critic, "est un état d'âme." He meant that
_what we seek_ in nature is that which answers to the state of our own
souls. What is called dreary, wild, and melancholy scenery afforded me,
at that time, a kind of satisfaction more profound than that which is
given by any of the human arts. I loved painting, but all the
collections in Europe attracted me less than the barren northern end of
our own island, in which there are no pictures; I loved architecture,
and chose a country that is utterly destitute of it; I delighted in
music, and pitched my tent where there was no music but that of the
winds and the waves.

The Loch Awe of those days was not the Loch Awe of the present. There
was no railway; there was not a steamer on the lake, either public or
private; there was no hotel by the waterside, only one or two small
inns, imperceptible in the vastness of the almost uninhabited landscape.
The lake was therefore almost a solitude, and this, added to the
wildness of the climate and the peculiarly simple and temporary
character of my habitation, made nature much more profoundly impressive
than it ever is amidst the powerful rivalry of the works of man. The
effect on my mind was, on the whole, saddening, but not in the least
depressing. It was a kind of poetic sadness that had nothing to do with
low spirits. I have never been either merry or melancholy, but have kept
an equable cheerfulness that maintains itself serenely enough even in
solitude and amidst the desolate aspects of stony and barren lands. As
life advances, it is wise, however, to seek the more cheering influences
of the external world, and those are rather to be found in the brightest
and sunniest landscape, with abundant evidence of happy human
habitation; some southern land of the vine where the chestnut grows high
on the hills, and the peach and the pear ripen richly in innumerable



Small immediate results of the expedition to the Highlands.--Unsuitable
system of work.--Loss of time.--I rent the house and island of
Innistrynich.--My dread of marriage and the reasons for
it.--Notwithstanding this I make an offer and am refused.--Two young
ladies of my acquaintance.--Idea of a foreign marriage.--Its
inconveniences.--Decision to ask for the hand of Mdlle. Gindriez.--I go
to Paris and am accepted.--Elective affinities.

The immediate artistic results of the expedition to the Highlands were
very small. I had gone there to paint detailed work from nature, when I
ought to have gone to sketch, and so adapt my work to the peculiar
character of the climate.

The tendency then was to detail, and the merit and value of good
sketching were not properly understood. There has been a complete
revolution, both in public and in artistic opinion, since those days.
The revival of etching, which in its liveliest and most spontaneous form
is only sketching on copper, the study of sketches by the great masters,
the publication of sketches by modern artists of eminence in the
artistic magazines, have all led to a far better appreciation of
vitality in art, and consequently have tended to raise good sketching
both in popular and in professional estimation. At the Paris Exhibition
of 1889 the Grand Prizes for engraving were given to an English
sketching etcher, Haden, and to two French etchers, Boilvin and Chauvel.
In 1857, I and many others looked upon sketching as defective work,
excusable only on the plea of want of time to do better. The omissions
in a sketch, which when intelligent are merits, seemed to me, on the
contrary, so many faults. In a word, I knew nothing about sketching. My
way was to draw very carefully and accurately, and then fill in the
color and detail in the most painstaking fashion from nature. I went by
line and detail, nobody having ever taught me anything about mass and
tonic values, still less about the difference between art and nature,
and the necessity for transposing nature into the keys of art. The
consequence was a great waste of time, and of only too earnest efforts
with hardly anything to show for them.

Here I leave this subject of art for the present, as it will be
necessary to recur to it later.

My guardian, like all women, had an objection to what was not customary,
and as my camp was considered a piece of eccentricity, she wanted me to
take a house on Lochaweside. The island called Innistrynich, which is
near the shore, where the road from Inverary to Dalmally comes nearest
to the lake, had a house upon it that happened to be untenanted. There
were twelve small rooms, and the camping experience had made me very
easy to please. It was possible to have the whole island (about thirty
acres) as a home farm, so I took it on a lease. This turned out a
misfortune afterwards, as I got tied to the place, not only by the
lease, but by a binding affection which was extremely inconvenient, and
led to very unfortunate consequences.

My dear guardian had another idea. Though she had prudently avoided
marriage on her own account, she thought it very desirable for me, and
sometimes recurred to the subject. Her heart complaint made her own life
extremely precarious, and she wished me to have the stay and anchorage
of a second affection that might make the world less dreary for me after
she had left it. At the same time it may be suspected that she looked to
marriage as the best chance of converting me to her own religious
opinions, or at least of obtaining outward conformity. To confess the
plain truth, I had a great dread of marriage, and not at all from any
aversion to feminine society, or from any insensibility to love.

My two reasons were these, and all subsequent observation and experience
have confirmed them. For a person given up to intellectual and artistic
pursuits there is a special value in mental and pecuniary independence.
So far as I could observe married men in England, they enjoyed very
little mental independence, being obliged, on the most important
questions, to succumb to the opinions of their wives, because what is
called "the opinion of Society" is essentially feminine opinion. In our
class the ladies were all strong Churchwomen and Tories, and the men I
most admired for the combination of splendid talents with high
principle, were to them (so far as they knew anything about such men)
objects of reprobation and abhorrence. No mother was ever loved by a son
more devotedly than my guardian was by me, and yet her intolerance would
have been hard to bear in a wife. Kind as she always was in manner, the
theological injustice which had been instilled into her mind from
infancy made her look upon me as bad company for my friends, as a
heretic likely to contaminate their orthodoxy. I could bear that, or
anything, from her, but I determined that if I married at all it should
not be to live under perpetual theological disapprobation.

The other grave objection to marriage was the dread of losing pecuniary
independence. I cared nothing for luxury and display, having an
unaffected preference for plain living, and being easily bored by the
elaborate observances of fine society, so that comparative poverty had
no terrors for me on that account; but there was another side to the
matter. A student clings to his studies, and dreads the interference
that may take him away from them. An independent bachelor can afford to
follow unremunerative study; a married man, unless he is rich, must lay
out his time to the best pecuniary advantage. His hours are at the
disposal of the highest bidder.

There was a young lady in Burnley for whom I had had a boyish attachment
long before, and whom I saw very frequently at her father's house in the
years preceding 1858. He was a banker in very good circumstances, and a
kind friend of mine, as intimate, perhaps, as was possible considering
the difference of years. He had been a Wrangler at Cambridge, and now
employed his forcible and fully matured intellect freely on all subjects
that came in his way, without deference to the popular opinions of the
hour. These qualities, rare enough in the upper middle class of those
days, made him very interesting to me, and I liked my place in an
easy-chair opposite to his, when he was in the humor for talking. He had
three handsome daughters, and his eldest son had been my school-fellow,
and was still, occasionally at least, one of my companions. Their mother
was a remarkably handsome and amiable lady, so that the house was as
pleasant as any house could be. We had music and played quintets, and
the eldest daughter sometimes played a duet with me. She was a good
amateur musician, well educated in other ways, and with a great charm of
voice and manner. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that
the old boyish attachment revived on my side, though there was nothing
answering to it on hers.

My good friend, her father, sometimes talked to me about marriage, and
expressed the regret that in a state of civilization like ours, and in
our class, a family of children should be a cause of weakness instead of
strength. In a primitive agricultural community, sons are of great
value, they are an increase of the family force; in a highly-civilized
condition, they only weaken the father by draining away his income.
"Daughters," said my friend, "are of use in primitive societies and in
the English middle class, because they do the work of the house, and
spare servants; but our young ladies do nothing of the least use, and
require to be first expensively educated, and afterwards expensively
amused." My friend then went into details about the cost of his own
family, which was heavy without extravagance or ostentation. All this
was intended to warn me, but I asked if he had any objection to me
personally as a son-in-law. He answered, with all the kindness I
expected, that there was no objection to make (he was too intelligent to
see anything criminal in my philosophical opinions), and that in what he
had said about the costliness of marriage he had spoken merely as a
friend, thinking of the weight of the burden I might be taking upon
myself, and the inconvenience to my own life in the future.

One afternoon his daughter and I were alone together, playing a duet,
when I asked her if she would have me, and she laughingly declined. I
remember being so little hurt by the refusal that I said: "That is not
the proper way to refuse an, offer; you ought to express a little
regret--you might say, at least, that you are sorry." Then the young
lady laughed again, and said: "Very well, I will say that I am sorry, if
you wish it." And so we parted, without any further expression of
sentiment on either side.

I never could understand why men make themselves wretched after a
refusal. It only proves that the young lady does not care very much for
one, and it is infinitely better that she should let him know that
before marriage than after. It was soon quite clear to me that, in this
case, the young lady's decision had been the wise one. We were not
really suited for each other, and we should never have been happy, both
of us, in the same kind of existence. Perhaps she was rather difficult
to please, or indifferent to marriage, for she never accepted anybody,
and is living still (1889) in happy independence as an old maid, within
a short distance of Hellifield Peel. I had a little indirect evidence,
thirty years afterwards, that she had not forgotten me. Most likely she
will survive me and read this. If she does, let the page convey a
complete acknowledgment of her good sense.

This was the only offer of marriage I ever made in England. There was a
certain very wealthy heiress whose uncle was extremely kind to me, and
he pushed his kindness so far as to wish me to marry her. She was
well-bred, her manners were quite equal to her fortune, and she had a
good appearance, but the idea of marriage did not occur to either of us.
Some time afterwards, her uncle said to a friend of mine: "I cannot
understand Hamerton; I wanted him to marry my niece, and he has gone and
married a French woman." "Oh!" said the other, "that was only to
improve his French!"

There was another case that I would have passed in silence, had not
people in Lancashire persistently circulated a story of an offer and a
refusal. A young lady, also a rich heiress, though not quite so rich as
the other, had a property a few miles distant from mine. She was a very
attractive girl, very pretty, and extremely intelligent, and we were
very good friends. To say, in this case, that the idea of marriage never
occurred would he untrue; but when I first knew her she was hardly more
than a child, and afterwards it became apparent to me that to live
happily in her house I should have to stifle all my opinions on
important subjects, so I never made the offer that our friends and
perhaps she herself expected. Whether she would have accepted me or not
is quite another question. Had I made any proposal I should have
accompanied it by a very plain statement of my obnoxious opinions on
religion and politics, and these would almost certainly have produced a
rupture. After my marriage, and before hers, we met again in the old
friendly way. I was paying a call with my wife, in a country house in
Lancashire, when a carriage came up the drive--_her_ carriage--and the
lady of the house, extremely fluttered, asked me if I had no objection
to meet Miss ----. "On the contrary," I said, "I like to meet old
friends." The young lady visibly enjoyed the humor of the situation, and
the embarrassment of our hostess. We talked easily in the old way, and
afterwards my wife and I left on foot, and _her_ carriage passed us,
rather stately, with servants in livery. "There goes your most dangerous
rival," I said to my wife, and told her what story there was to tell.
"She is much prettier than I am," was the modest answer, "and evidently
a good deal richer; and she is a charming person." In due time Miss ----
married very suitably. Her husband is a good Churchman and Conservative,
who takes a proper interest in the pursuits belonging to his station.

My guardian was of opinion that with my philosophical convictions, which
were at that time not only unpopular, but odious and execrated in our
own class in England, I should have to remain an old bachelor. She
herself would certainly never have married an unbeliever, and
although her great personal affection for me made her glad to
have me in the house, she must have felt that it was like sheltering
a pariah. Her sister once heard some rumor or suggestion, connecting
my name with that of a pious young lady, and looked upon it as a
sort of sacrilege. Under these circumstances I came at last to
the conclusion that, being under a ban, I would at least enjoy my
liberty, either by living my own life as a bachelor, or else by
marrying purely and simply according to inclination, without any
reference to the opinion of other people.

It was at this time that the idea of a foreign marriage first occurred
to me as a possibility. I had never thought of it before, and if such an
idea had entered my head, the clear foresight of the enormous
inconveniences would have immediately expelled it. A foreign marriage
is, in fact, quite an accumulation of inconveniences. One of the two
parties must always be living in a foreign country, and in all their
intercourse together one of the two must always be speaking a foreign
language. The families of the two parties will never know each other or
understand each other properly; there will be either estrangement or
misunderstanding. And unless there is great largeness of mind in the
parties themselves, the difference of national customs is sure to
produce quarrels.

All this was plain enough, and yet one morning, when I was writing on my
desk (a tall oak desk that I used to stand up to), the idea suddenly
came, as if somebody had uttered these words in my ear: "Why should you
remain lonely all your days? Eugénie Gindriez would be an affectionate
and faithful wife to you. She is not rich, but you would work and fight
your way."

I pushed aside the sheet of manuscript and took a sheet of note-paper
instead. I then wrote, in French, a letter to a lady in Paris who knew
the Gindriez family, and asked her if Mademoiselle Eugénie was engaged
to be married. The answer came that she was well, and that there had
been no engagement. Soon afterwards I was in Paris.

I called on M. Gindriez, but his daughter was not at home. I asked
permission to call in the evening, and she was out again. This was
repeated two or three times, and my wife told me afterwards that the
absences had not been accidental. At last we met, and there was nothing
in her manner but a certain gravity, as if serious resolutions were
impending. Her sister showed no such reserve, but greeted me gayly and
frankly. After a few days, I was accepted on the condition of an annual
visit to France.

From a worldly point of view, this engagement was what is called in
French _une folie_, on my part, and hardly less so on the part of the
young lady. We had, however, a kind of inward assurance that in spite of
the difference of nationality and other differences, we were, in truth,
nearer to each other than most people who contract matrimonial
engagements. The "elective affinities" act in spite of all appearances
and of many realities.

We have often talked over that time since, and have confessed that we
really knew hardly anything of each other, that our union was but an
instinctive choice. However, in 1858 I had neither doubt nor anxiety,
and in 1889 I have neither anxiety nor doubt.



Reception at home after engagement.--Preparations at Innistrynich.--I
arrive alone in Paris.--My marriage.--The religious ceremony.--An
uncomfortable wedding.--The sea from Dieppe.--London.--The Academy
Exhibition of 1858.--Impressions of a French woman.--The Turner
collection.--The town.--Loch Awe.--The element wanting to happiness.

On returning home after my engagement I was greeted very affectionately
at the front door by my dear guardian, who expressed many wishes for my
future happiness; but her sister sat motionless and rigid in an
arm-chair in the dining-room, and did not seem disposed to take any
notice of me. From that time until long after my marriage she treated me
with the most distant coldness, varied occasionally by a bitter

I said nothing and bore all patiently, looking forward to a speedy
deliverance. There was much in the circumstances to excuse my aunt, who
was intensely aristocratic and intensely national. She was the proudest
person I ever knew, and would have considered any marriage a misalliance
for me if my wife's family had not had as long a pedigree as ours, and
as many quarterings as the fifteen that adorned our shield. Being a
stanch Protestant, she was not disposed to look favorably on a Roman
Catholic, unless she belonged to one of the old English Catholic
families. Her ideas of the French nation were those prevalent in England
during the wars against Napoleon. She had probably counted upon me to do
something to lift up a falling house, and instead of that I was going to
marry she knew not whom. It is impossible to argue against national and
class prejudices; the fact was simply that my wife's family belonged to
the educated French middle class. Her uncle was a well-to-do attorney in
Dijon, [Footnote: Very nearly in the same social position as my own
father. His daughter afterwards married the grandson and representative
of the celebrated Count Français de Nantes, who filled various high
offices in the State, and was grand officer of the Legion of Honor and
Peer of France. A fine portrait of him by David is amongst their family
pictures.] and her father had gone through a perfectly honorable
political career, both as deputy and prefect. My wife herself had been
better educated than most girls at that time, and both spoke and wrote
her own language not only correctly, but with more than ordinary
elegance,--a taste she inherited from her father. As to her person, she
dressed simply, but always with irreproachable neatness, and a
scrupulous cleanliness that richer women might sometimes imitate with
advantage. These were the plain facts; what my aunt imagined is beyond

Before my marriage I went to Loch Awe, to prepare the house on
Innistrynich and furnish it. Of all strange places in the world for a
young Parisienne to be brought to, surely Innistrynich was the least
suitable! My way in those days was the usual human way of thinking, that
what is good for one's self is good for everybody else. Did I not know
by experience that the solitude of Loch Awe was delightful? Must not my
Paradise be a Paradise for any daughter of Eve?

It was a charming bachelor's paradise the morning I left for Paris, a
bright May morning, the loch lying calm in its great basin, the islands
freshly green with the spring. At Cladich the people, who knew I was
going to fetch a bride, threw old shoes after the carriage for luck. It
did not rain rice at Loch Awe in those days.

I was an excellent traveller then, and did not get into a bed before
arriving in Paris. There was a day in London between two nights of
railway, a day spent in looking at pictures and making a few purchases.
At Paris I went to a quiet hotel in the Cité Bergère. I was utterly
alone; no relation or friend came with me to my marriage. Somebody told
me a best man was necessary, so I asked a French acquaintance to be best
man, and he consented. The morning of my wedding there was a _garçon_
brushing the waxed oak floor on the landing near my door. I had a
flowered white silk waistcoat, and the man said: "Monsieur est bien beau
ce matin; on dirait qu'il va à une noce." I answered: "Vous avez bien
deviné; en effet, je vais à une noce." It was unnecessary to give him
further information.

The marriage was a curious little ceremony. My wife's father had friends
and acquaintances in the most various classes, who all came to the
wedding. Some men were there who were famous in the Paris of those days,
and others whom I had never heard of, but all were alike doomed to
disappointment. They expected a grand ceremony in the church, and
instead of that we got nothing but a brief benediction in the vestry, by
reason of my heresy and schism. The benediction was over in five
minutes, and we left in the pouring rain, whilst a crowd of people were
waiting for the ceremony to begin. My wife, like all French girls, would
have liked an imposing and important marriage, and lo! there was nothing
at all, not even an altar, or a censer, or a bell!

However, we had been legally married at the _mairie_ with the civil
ceremonial, and as we were certainly blessed in the vestry, nobody can
say that our union was unhallowed. I shall always remember that
benediction, for, brief as it was, it cost me a hundred francs.
[Footnote: Including what I had to pay for being called a schismatic by
the Archbishop of Paris, or his officials.] A magnificent mass on my
daughter's marriage cost me only sixty, which was a very reasonable

Words cannot express how odious to me are the fuss and expense about a
wedding. There was my father-in-law, a poor man, who thought it
necessary (indeed, he was compelled by custom) to order a grand feast
from a famous restaurant and give a brilliant ball, as if he had been
extremely happy to lose his daughter, the delight of his eyes and the
brightness of his home. Everything about our wedding was peculiarly
awkward and uncomfortable. I knew none of the guests, I spoke their
language imperfectly, and was not at ease, then, in French society; we
had to make talk and try to eat. The family was sad about our departure,
the sky was gray, the streets muddy and wet. In an interval of tolerable
weather we went for a drive in the Bois de Boulogne to get through the
interminable afternoon.

It was pleasanter when, a day or two later, my wife and I were looking
out upon the sea from Dieppe. She had never seen salt water before, and
as it happened to be a fine day the vast expanse of the Channel was all
a wonderful play of pale greens and blues, like turquoise and pale
emerald. There were white clouds floating in the blue sky, and here and
there a white sail upon the sea. My wife was enchanted with this, to her
fresh young eyes, revelation of a novel and unimaginable beauty. It was
a new world for her, and that hour was absolutely the only hour in her
life during which she thoroughly enjoyed the sea; for she is the worst
of sailors, and now cannot even endure the smell of salt water at a

The first thing we did in London was to go and see the Exhibition of the
Royal Academy. My wife, like her father, took a keen interest in art,
and had been rather well acquainted with French painting for a girl of
her age. When she got into an English Exhibition she looked round in
bewildered amazement. It was, for her, like being transported into
another planet. In 1858 the difference between French and English
painting was far more striking than it is to-day. French color, without
being generally good, was subdued; in fact, most of it was not color at
all, but only gray and brown, with a little red or blue here and there
to make people believe that there was color. The English, on the other
hand, were trying hard for real color, but the younger men were in that
crude stage which is the natural "ugly duckling" condition of the
genuine colorist. The consequence was an astounding contrast between the
painting of the two nations, and to eyes educated in France English art
looked outrageous to a degree that we realize with the greatest
difficulty now. At a later period my wife became initiated into the
principles and tendencies of English painting, and then she began to
enjoy it. I took her to see the Turner collection in 1858, and that
seemed to her like the ravings of a madman put on canvas; but a few
years later she became a perfectly sincere admirer of the noblest works
of Turner. I may add that in 1858 my wife was already, in spite of her
difficulty in understanding what to her were novelties, far more in
sympathy with art generally than I was myself. She had lived in a great
artistic centre, whilst I had lived with nature in the north, and cared,
at that time, comparatively little about the art of the past, my hopes
being concentrated on a kind of landscape-painting that was to come in
the future, and to unite the effects I saw in nature with a minute
accuracy in the drawing of natural forms. The kind of painting I was
looking forward to was, in fact, afterwards realized by Mr. John Brett.

My wife's first impressions of London generally were scarcely more
favorable than her impressions of English painting, but they were of a
very different order. If the painting had appeared too bright, the town
appeared too dingy. London is extremely dismal for all French people,
whose affection for their own country leads them to the very mistaken
belief that the skies, in France, are bright all the year round. My wife
now prefers London to any place in the world except Paris; in fact, she
has a strong affection for London, the consequence of the kindness she
has received there, and also of the enlightened interest she takes in
everything that is really worth attention.

We went straight from London to Glasgow, and thence to Loch Awe, which
happened at that time to be enveloped in a dense fog that lasted two
days, so that when I told my wife that there was a high mountain on the
opposite side of the lake she could hardly believe it. In fact, nothing
was visible but a still, gray, shoreless sea.

I was now, as it seemed, in a condition of great felicity, being in the
place I loved best on earth with the person most dear to me.
Unfortunately, the union of many different circumstances and conditions
is necessary to perfect happiness, if happiness exists in the world. The
element lacking in my case was success in work, or at least the inward
assurance of progress. There was our beautiful island home, in itself as
much a poem as a canto of "The Lady of the Lake," with its ancient oaks,
its rocky shore, its green, undulating, park-like pasture; there was the
lake for sailing and the mountain for climbing, and all around us a
country of unlimited wealth of material for the sketcher. Amidst all
this, with a too earnest and painful application, I set myself to do
what had never been done,--to unite the color and effect of nature to
the material accuracy of the photograph.







My first sight of Loch Awe.--Arrival at Innistrynich.--Our domestic
life.--Difficulties about provisions.--A kitchen garden.

When Philip Gilbert Hamerton asked me to marry him, he conscientiously
attempted to explain how different my life would be in the Highlands of
Scotland from that to which I had been accustomed in Paris. He said how
solitary it was, especially in the winter-time; how entirely devoid of
what are called the pleasures of a metropolis--to which a Parisian lady
has the reputation of being such a slave (he knew, however, that it was
not my case); and already his devotion to study was such that he
requested me to promise not to interfere with his work of any kind that
he deemed necessary,--were it camping out, or sailing in stormy weather
to observe nature under all her changing aspects, either of day or

Still, the picture he drew of our future existence was by no means all
in dark colors, for with the enthusiasm of an artist he described the
glories of the Highlands, the ever-varying skies, the effects of light
and shadow on the mountains, the beauties of the lovely isles, and the
charm of sailing on the moonlit and mysterious lake. He also made me
acquainted with the numerous legends of Loch Awe (he had told them in
verse, but I was ignorant of English), which would lend a romantic
atmosphere to our island-home. He was so sensitive to the different
moods of nature that his descriptions gave to a town-bred girl like me
an intense desire to witness them with my own eyes; and when I did see
them there was no _désillusion_, and the effect was so overpowering that
it seemed like the revelation of a new sense in me. The first glimpse I
had of Loch Awe, from the top of the coach, was like the realization of
a fantastic and splendid dream; I could not believe it to be a reality,
and thought of some mirage; but my husband was delighted by this first

We reached Innistrynich shortly before nightfall, and I was taken to the
keeper's cottage to warm myself, whilst the luggage was being conveyed
across the bay to the house. Though it was the end of May, the weather
had been so cold all the way that I felt almost benumbed after the
drive; for, being accustomed to the climate of France, I had taken but
scanty precautions in the way of wraps, believing them to be superfluous
at that time of the year. My husband, having begged the keeper's wife to
take care of me, she carried her assiduities to a point that quite
confused me, for I could not remonstrate in words, and she was so
evidently prompted by kindness that I was fearful of hurting her by
opposing her well-meant but exaggerated attentions. She swathed me in a
Scotch plaid, and placed the bundle I had become in a cushioned and
canopied arm-chair by the peat-fire, the smoke and unaccustomed odor of
which stifled me; then she insisted upon removing my boots and
stockings, and chafed my feet in her hands, to bring back a little
warmth. Lastly, she hospitably brought me what she thought the best
thing she had to offer, a hot whiskey toddy. To please her, and also to
relieve my numbness, I tried my best to drink what seemed to me a horrid
mixture, but I could not manage it, and could not explain why, and the
poor woman remained lost in sorrowful bewilderment at my rejection of
the steaming tumbler. Just then my husband came back, and after thanking
the keeper's wife, rowed me over to Innistrynich.

It was then quite dark, and impossible to see the island, even the
outside of the cottage; but when the door was open, it showed the
prettiest picture imaginable: the entrance was brilliantly illuminated,
and our two servants--a maid and a young lad ("Thursday" of the
"Painter's Camp"), both healthy and cheerful-looking, were standing
ready to relieve us of our wraps. The drawing-room had an inviting glow
of comfort, with the generous fire, the lights of the elegant candelabra
playing amongst the carvings of the oak furniture, and the tones of the
dark ruddy curtains harmonizing with the lighter ones of the
claret-colored carpet; an artistic silver set of tea-things, which my
husband had secretly brought from Paris with the candelabra, had been
spread on the table ready for us, and my appreciation of the taste and
thoughtfulness displayed on my behalf gladdened and touched the donor.
I had never before partaken of tea as a meal, but it was certainly a
most delightful repast to both of us.

After a short rest, my husband showed me the arrangements of the house,
rich in surprises to my foreign notions, but none the less interesting
and pleasant.

Our drawing-room was to serve as dining-room also, for the orthodox
dining-room had been transformed into a studio and sitting-room; they
stood opposite to each other. A little further along the corridor
came the two best bedrooms, which, at first sight, gave to a Parisian
girl a sensation of bareness and emptiness, corrected later by habit.
Everything necessary was to be found there,--large brass bedsteads
with snowy coverings, all the modern contrivances for the toilet,
chests of drawers, each surmounted by a bright looking-glass;
even a number of tiny and curious gimcracks ornamented the narrow
mantelpiece; but to a French eye the absence of curtains to the bed, and
the unconcealed display of washing utensils, suggested a _cabinet de
toilette_ rather than a bedroom. This simplicity has now become quite
fashionable among wealthy French people, on account of its healthiness:
the fresh air playing more freely and remaining purer than in rooms
crowded with stuffed seats, and darkened by elaborate upholstery.

On the upper story were four other rooms, used as laboratory,
store-room, and servants' rooms; whilst on the ground-floor we had a
scullery, a large kitchen, a laundry,--that I used afterwards as a
private kitchen, when my husband provided it with a set of French brass
pans and a charcoal range,--a spare room, which was turned into a
nursery by and by, and lastly, a repository for my husband's not
inconsiderable paraphernalia.

The first days after our arrival were devoted to sailing or rowing on
the lake, to acquaint me with its topography; soon, however, we made
rules to lose no time, for we had both plenty of work before us.

My husband, at that time, knew French pretty well; he could express
everything he wished to say, and understood even the _nuances_ of the
language, but his accent betrayed him at once as an Englishman, and
there lingered in his speech a certain hesitation about the choice of
words most appropriate to his meaning. As for me, my English had
remained that of a school-girl, and my husband offered me his
congratulations on my extremely limited knowledge, for this reason--that
I should have little to unlearn. We agreed, to begin with, that one of
us ought to know the other's language thoroughly, so as to establish a
perfect understanding, and as he was so much more advanced in French
than I in English, it was decided that for a time he should become my
pupil, and that our conversations should be in my mother-tongue.

On my part I devoted two hours a day to the study of English grammar,
and to the writing of exercises, themes, and versions. This task was
fulfilled during my husband's absence, or whilst he was engaged with his
correspondence; and in the afternoon I used to read English aloud to
him, while he drew or painted either at home or out of doors. It was his
own scheme of tuition, and proved most satisfactory, but required in the
teacher--particularly at the beginning--an ever-ready attention to
correct the pronunciation of almost every word, and to give the
translation of it, together with a great store of patience to bear with
the constantly recurring errors; for not to mar my interest in the works
he gave me to read, I was exempted from the slow process of the
dictionary. He was himself the best of dictionaries--explaining the
differences of meaning, giving the life and spirit of each term, and
always impressing this truth, that rarely does the same expression
convey exactly the same idea in two languages. He frequently failed to
give word for word, because he would not give an approximate
translation; but he was always ready with a detailed explanation, and so
taught me to enter into the peculiar genius of the language; so that if
I did not become a good translator, I learned early to think and to feel
in sympathy with the authors I was studying.

If the weather allowed it, Gilbert generally took me out on the lake,
and according to the prevailing wind, chose some particular spot for a
study. These excursions lasted about half the day or more, and then some
sort of nourishment was required; but as my ignorance of the language
prevented me from giving the necessary orders, the responsibility of the
commissariat entirely devolved upon him; and I may candidly avow that
the results were a continual source of surprise to me. Being
unacquainted with English ways, I presumed that it was customary to live
in the frugal and uniform fashion prevalent at Innistrynich; namely, at
breakfast: ham or bacon; sometimes eggs, with or without butter,
according to circumstances; toast--or scones, if bread were wanting--and
coffee. At lunch: dry biscuits and milk. At tea-time, which varied
considerably _as to time_, ranging from five if we were in the house, to
eight or nine if my husband was out sketching: ham and eggs again, or a
little mutton--chop or steak, if the meat were fresh, cold boiled
shoulder or leg if it was salted; and a primitive sort of crisp, hard
cake, which Thursday always served with evident pleasure and pride,
being first pastry-cook and then partaker of the luxury. I often
wondered how Englishmen could grow so tall and so strong on such food;
for I was aware within myself of certain feelings of weakness and
sickness never experienced before, but which I was ashamed to confess so
long as men whose physical organizations required more sustenance
remained free from them. One day, however, the reason of this difference
became clear to me. My husband had proposed to show me Kilchurn Castle,
which he was going to sketch, and we started early after the first light
breakfast, with Thursday to manage the sails. On turning round
Innistrynich we met a contrary wind, and had to beat against it: it was
slow work, and at last I timidly suggested that it might perhaps be
better to turn back to get something to eat; but Gilbert triumphantly
said he was prepared for the emergency, and had provided ... a box of
figs!!!... yes, and he opened it deliberately and offered me the first
pick. I could not refrain from looking at Thursday, whose face betrayed
such a queer expression of mingled amusement and disappointed
expectation that I burst out laughing heartily, at which my husband, who
had been meditatively eating fig after fig, looked up wondering what was
the matter. I then asked if that was all our meal, and he gravely took
out of the box two bottles of beer and a flask of sherry, the look of
which seemed to revive Thursday's spirits wonderfully. As for me, who
drank at that time neither beer nor wine, and whose taste for dry figs
was very limited, I hinted that something more--bread, for
instance--would not have been superfluous. The opportunity for ridding
himself of cares so little in harmony with his tastes and artistic
pursuits was not lost by my husband, and I was then and there invested
with the powers and functions of housekeeper.

This was the plan adopted for the discharge of my new duties. In the
morning I studiously wrote, as an exercise, the orders I wished to give,
and, after correction, I learned to repeat them by word of mouth till I
could be understood by the servants. It succeeded tolerably when my
husband was accessible, if an explanation was rendered necessary on
account of my foreign accent; but there was no way out of the difficulty
if he happened to be absent.

Ever since I knew him I had noticed his anxiety to lose no time, and to
turn every minute to the best account for his improvement. Throughout
his life he made rules to bind his dreamy fancy to active study and
production; they were frequently altered, according to the state of his
health and the nature of his work at the time; but he felt the necessity
of self-imposed laws to govern and regulate his strong inclination
towards reflection and reading. He used to say that when people allowed
themselves unmeasured time for what they called "thinking," it was
generally an excuse for idle dreaming; because the brain, after a
certain time given to active exertion, felt exhausted, and could no
longer be prompted to work with intellectual profit; that, in
consequence, the effort grew weaker and weaker, till vague musings and
indistinct shadows gradually replaced the powerful grasp and clear
vision of healthy mental labor.

On the other side, it must be said that he was too much of a poet to
undervalue the state of apparent indolence which is so favorable to
inspiration, and that he often quoted in self-defence the words of
Claude Tillier,--"Le temps le mieux employé est celui que l'on perd."
Aware of his strong propensity to that particular mental state, he
attempted all his life to restrict it within limits which would leave
sufficient time for active pursuits. His love of sailing must have been
closely connected with the inclination to a restful, peaceful, dreamy
state, for although fond of all kinds of boating, he greatly preferred a
sailing-boat to any other, and never wished to possess a steamer, or
cared much to make use of one.

Still, he took great pleasure in some forms of physical exercise: he
could use an oar beautifully; he was a capital horseman, having been
used to ride from the age of six, and retained a firm seat to the last;
he readily undertook pedestrian excursions and the ascent of mountains.
He often rode from Innistrynich to Inverary or Dalmally (when our island
became a peninsula in dry weather, or in winter when the bay was frozen
over); but he found little satisfaction in riding the mare we had then,
which was mainly used as a cart-horse to fetch provisions, for the
necessaries of life were not very accessible about us. We had to get
bread, meat, and common grocery from Inverary, and the rest from
Glasgow, so that we soon discovered that the whole time of a male
servant would be required for errands of different kinds. Not
unfrequently was the half of a day lost in the attempt to get a dozen
eggs from the little scattered farms, or a skinny fowl, or such a rare
delicacy as a cabbage. Sometimes Thursday came back from the town
peevish and angry at his lost labor, having found the bread too hard or
too musty, and mutton unprocurable; as to the beef which came
occasionally from Glasgow, it was usually tainted, except in
winter-time, and veal was not to be had for love or money, except in a
condition to make one fearful of a catastrophe.

There was also the additional trouble of unloading the goods on the side
of the road, of putting them into the boat, to be rowed across the bay;
then they must be carried to the house either by man or horse. Merely to
get the indispensable quantity of fuel in such a damp climate, when
fires have to be kept up for eight or oftener nine months in the year,
was a serious matter, and my husband complained that he was constantly
deprived of Thursday's services. He then decided to take as a gardener,
out-of-door workman, and occasional boatman, a Highlander of the name of
Dugald, whom he had employed sometimes in the latter capacity, for he
knew something of boats, having been formerly a fisherman.

There were some outbuildings on the island; one of them contained two
rooms, which Dugald and his wife found sufficient for them (they had no
children), and this became the gardener's cottage. Another was used as a
stable, and the smallest as a fowl-house and carpenter's shop, for now
we had come to the conclusion that we could not possibly live all the
year round on the island without a small farm, to provide us, at least,
with milk, cream, butter, and eggs; so we bought two cows, and also a
small flock of sheep, that we might always be sure of mutton--either
fresh or salted. This did not afford a great variety of _menus_, but it
was better than starvation.

Vegetables, other than potatoes and an occasional cabbage, being
unseen--and I believe unknown--at Loch Awe, and my husband's health
having suffered in consequence of the privation, we had the ambition of
growing our own vegetables, and a great variety of them too. Dugald was
set to dig and manure a large plot of ground, though he kept mumbling
that it was utterly useless, as nothing could or would grow where oats
did not ripen once in three years, and that Highlanders, who knew so
much better than foreigners, "would not be fashed" to attempt it.
However, as he was paid to do the work, he had to do it; and it was
simple enough, for he had no pretensions to being a gardener; the choice
of seeds and the sowing of them were left to Gilbert, who had never
given a thought to it before, and to me, who knew absolutely nothing of
the subject. In this emergency we got books to guide us, bought and
sowed an enormous quantity of seeds, and to our immense gratification
some actually sprouted. Our pride was great when the doctor came to
lunch with us for the first time, and we could offer him radishes and
lettuce, which he duly wondered at and appreciated. Of course we had to
put up with many failures, but still it was worth while to persevere,
as, in addition to carrots, onions, turnips,--which grew to
perfection,--potatoes and cabbages, we had salads of different kinds,
small pumpkins, and fine cauliflowers. I soon discovered that peat was
extremely favorable to them, so we had a trench made in peaty soil,
where they grew splendidly.

Although very well satisfied on the whole with our attempt, we thought
it absorbed too much of my husband's time, and he soon requested me to
go on with it by myself, and frankly avowed that he could not take any
interest in gardening, even in ornamental gardening. This lack of
interest seemed strange to me, because he liked to study nature in all
her phenomena, but it lasted to the end of his life; he did not care in
the least for a well-kept garden, but he liked flowers for their colors
and perfumes,--not individually,--and trees for their forms, either
noble or graceful, and especially for their shade. He could not bear to
see them pruned, and when it became imperative to cut some of their
branches, he used to complain quite sadly to his daughter--who shared
his feelings about trees--and he would say: "Now, Mary, you see they are
at it again, spoiling our poor trees." And if I replied, "But it is for
their health; the branches were trailing on the ground, and now the
trees will grow taller," he slowly shook his head, unconvinced. When we
took the small house at Pré-Charmoy, he was delighted by the wildness of
the tiny park sloping gently down to the cool, narrow, shaded river,
over which the bending trees met and arched, and he begged me not to
interfere with the trailing blackberry branches which crept about the
roots and stems of the superb wild-rose trees, making sweet but
impenetrable thickets interwoven with honeysuckle, even in the midst of
the alleys and lawns.

And now to return to the domestic arrangements arrived at by mutual
consent. Upon me devolved the housekeeping, provisioning, and care of
the garden, with the help of a maid, occasionally that of Dugald's wife
as charwoman, and pretty regularly that of Dugald himself for a certain
portion of the day; that is, when he was not required by my husband to
man the boat or to help in a camping-out expedition. It was agreed that
Thursday should be considered as his master's private servant.



Money matters.--Difficulties about servants.--Expensiveness of our mode
of life.

My husband had a little fortune, sufficient for his wants as a bachelor,
which were modest; it would have been larger had his father nursed it
instead of diminishing it as he did by his reckless ways, and especially
by entrusting its management during his son's minority to a very kind
but incapable guardian in business matters, and to another competent but
dishonest trustee, who squandered, unchecked, many important sums of
money, and made agreements and leases profitable to himself, but almost
ruinous to his ward. As to the other trustee, he never troubled himself
so far as to read a deed or a document before signing it. Still, what
remained when my husband came of age was amply sufficient for the kind
of life he soon chose, that of an artist; and he hoped, moreover, to
increase it by the sale of his works.

He was, however, aware of the future risks of the situation when he
asked in marriage a girl without fortune, and he told me without reserve
what we had to expect.

An important portion of his income was to cease after fourteen
years--the end of the lease of a coal-mine; but he felt certain that he
would be able by that time to replace it by his own earnings, and
meanwhile we were to live so economically and so simply that, as we
thought, there was no need for anxiety; so we convinced my parents--with
the persuasion that love lent us--that after all we should not be badly

Soon after the completion of our household organization, however, I
began to fear that a very simple way of living might, under peculiar
conditions, become expensive. A breakfast consisting of ham and eggs is
not extravagantly luxurious, but if the ham comes to thrice the original
price when carriage and spoilage are allowed for, and if to the sixpence
paid for half-a-dozen eggs you add the wages of a man for as many hours,
you find to your dismay that though your repast was simple, it was not
particularly cheap. Whichever way we turned we met with unavoidable and
unlooked-for expenses. Perhaps an English lady, accustomed to the
possibilities of such a place, and to the habits of the servants and the
customs of the country, might have managed better--though even to-day I
don't see clearly what she could have done; as for me, though I had been
brought up in the belief that Paris was one of the most expensive places
to live in, and though I was perfectly aware of its prices,--having kept
my father's house for some years, on account of my mother's weak state
of health,--I was entirely taken by surprise, and rather afraid of the
reckoning at the end of the year. No one who has not attempted that kind
of primitive existence has any idea of its complications. A mere change
of servant was expensive--and such changes were rather frequent, on
account of their disgust at the breach of orthodox habits, and the lack
of followers; or their dismissal was rendered inevitable by their
incapacity or unwillingness, or their contempt for everything out of
their own country. We had a capital instance of this characteristic in a
nurse who came from Greenock, and who thoroughly despised everything in
the Highlands. One night, my husband and myself were out of doors
admiring a splendid full moon, by the light of which it was quite easy
to read. The nurse Katharine was standing by us, holding baby in her
arms, and she heard me express my admiration: unable to put up with
praises of a Highland moon, she exclaimed deliberately, "Sure, ma'am,
then, you should see the Greenock moon; this is nothing to it."

This change of servants was of serious moment to us, both in the way of
time and money, for we had to go to Glasgow or Greenock to fetch new
ones, besides paying for their journeys to and fro, and a month's wages
if they did not give satisfaction, which was but too often the case.

Once it happened that a steamer, bringing over a small cargo of
much-needed provisions, foundered, and we were in consequence nearly
reduced to a state of starvation.

Also, after paying princely prices for laying hens, we only found empty
shells in the hen-coop, the rats having sucked the eggs before us.
Gilbert, to save our eggs, bought a vivacious little terrier, who killed
more fowls than rats; and as to the few little chickens that were
hatched--despite the cold and damp--they gradually disappeared, devoured
by the birds of prey, falcons and eagles, which carried them off under
my eyes, even whilst I was feeding them.

Another very important item of expense lay in the different materials
required for my husband's work of various kinds, and of which he ordered
such quantities that their remnants are still to be found in his
laboratory as I write. Papers of all sorts of quality and size--for
pen-and-ink, crayons, pastel, water-color, etching, tracing; colors dry
and moist, brushes, canvases, frames, boards, panels; also the
requisites for photography. It was one of my husband's lasting
peculiarities that, in his desire to do a great quantity of work, and in
the fear of running short of something, he always gave orders far
exceeding what he could possibly use. He also invariably allowed
himself, for the completion of any given work, an insufficiency of time,
because he did not, beforehand, take into account the numerous
corrections that he was sure to make; for he was constantly trying to do

Our journeys also contributed to swell considerably the total of our
expenditure. Before we were married he promised my parents that he would
bring me over once a year, for about a month; for it was a great
sacrifice on their part to let their eldest child go so far away, and,
even as it was, to remain separated for so long at a time. My husband's
relations had also to be considered, and he decided that every time we
went to France we would stay a week at least with his maiden aunts, who
had brought him up, and a few days with the family of his kind uncle,
Thomas Hamerton of Todmorden; then a short time in London to see the
Exhibitions and his friends. The same itinerary was to be followed on
our return.

My parents living then in Paris, where even at that time rents were high
and space restricted, my husband's dislike to confinement did not allow
him to remain satisfied with the single room they could put at our
disposal; moreover, in order to work effectively, peace and perfect
quiet were absolutely indispensable to him; so he took lodgings close to
my parents', and whilst I spent as much of my time with them as I could
spare, he wrote or read in the noiseless rooms we had taken _entre cour
et jardin_. Of course the rent of the lodgings was an additional
expense. Altogether, when we summed up the accounts after the first
year, we were dismayed to see what was the cost of such an unpretentious
existence; but with youthful hope we counted upon the income that art
could not fail to bring shortly.



Painting from nature.--Project of an exhibition.--Photography.--Plan of
the "Painter's Camp."--Topographic Art.--Charm of our life in the

Mr. Hamerton has himself explained in his autobiography what were his
artistic tendencies and aims: he meant to be topographically true in his
rendering of nature, and was unluckily greatly influenced by the
Pre-Raphaelites, who were, at the time of our marriage, attracting great
attention. I was totally unprepared for that kind of art, and the most
famous specimens of it which my husband took me to see in London only
awoke an apprehension as to what I might think of his own pictures when
they were shown to me. The old masters in the Louvre, even the yearly
Salons, where, under my father's guidance, I had learned to admire
Troyon, Corot, and Millet, had given me an education which fell short of
enabling me to recognize the merits of the new school. It was in vain
that my husband pointed out the veracity of the minutest detail, in vain
that he attempted to interest me in the subjects or praised the scheme
of color; I did not understand it as art, and I received an impression,
perfectly remembered to this day, and which I hardly hope to convey to
others in words: it was for my eyes what unripe fruit is for the teeth.

It was a long time before my husband completed a picture at
Innistrynich, because he had resolved, at first, to paint only from
nature, and was constantly interrupted by changes of effect. After many
attempts, he came to the conclusion that he would only paint local color
out-of-doors, and in order to study effects rapidly, he made hasty
sketches with copious notes written in pencil. Still, he was not
satisfied, the sketch, however quickly traced, retarding the taking of
notes, so that the effect had vanished before they were completed. After
giving mature consideration to another scheme of study, he decided to
make careful pen-and-ink topographical drawings of the most striking
features of the scenery, such as Ben Cruachan, Glen Etive, Ben Vorlich,
Glencoe, etc., and to have them reproduced in large quantities, so that,
when upon the scene represented by any of them, he would only have to
note the most impressive effects, the sketch having become unnecessary.
I wished him to take these memoranda in water-colors or pastels, for it
seemed to me very difficult, when the effect was out of the memory, to
revive it in its entirety by hundreds of minute observations covering
the whole sheet of paper. I had another reason for wishing to see him
work more in colors--it was his want of dexterity with them, which I
thought practice only could give; but he said it was too slow for
out-of-door study, and should be reserved for winter-time and bad
weather. Another point upon which we could not agree was the amount of
truth to which an artist ought to bind himself; he said "nothing less
than topographic truth," and he took infinite pains in the measurement
of mountain peaks, breadth of heather-patches, and length of running
streams. To his grievous disappointment, when the conscientious and
labored study was shown to me, I could not but repeat that if it were
true it did not look so to me, since it produced none of the sensations
of the natural scene. "You would like me to exaggerate, then?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered, "if that is the way to make it _look_ true." But he
persevered in his system. He used to camp out a week, sometimes a
fortnight, wherever he made choice of a subject, and returned to the
same spot several times afterwards, with his printed studies of outlines
to take notes of effects.

He was fond of elaborating schemes, and I told him sometimes that I
wished he would allow things to go on more simply, that he would paint
his pictures straightforwardly, and try for their reception in the
Academy; but he answered that most certainly they would be rejected if
painted with so little care, and that he thought the best plan was to go
on patiently during the summer as he had begun, then to paint in winter
from his studies, and produce, not an odd picture now and then, but a
series of pictures illustrating the most remarkable characteristics of
Highland scenery, which he would put before the public in a private
exhibition of his own, under the title of "Pictures from the Highlands,
by P. G. Hamerton." And before one of the pictures was begun, he had
made the model of a die bearing this inscription, to be stamped on the
frames of the pictures, as well as on the studies. Mr. Hamerton had
taken lessons from a photographer in Paris, at the time of his first
visit there, thinking it might be a help in the prosecution of his
scheme, and now he was always trying to get some photographs of the
scenes among which he camped. They were generally very poor and feeble,
the weather being so often unpropitious, and the process (paper process)
so imperfect and tedious. Still, it was the means of giving pleasure to
our relations and friends by acquainting them with our surroundings.
Here is a passage from one of my father's letters in acknowledgment of
the photograph of our house: "J'ai reçu avec infiniment de plaisir votre
lettre et la photographie qui l'accompagnait. Cette petite image nous
met en communication plus directe, en nous identifiant pour ainsi dire,
à votre vie intérieure. Merci donc, et de bon coeur."

Although my husband firmly believed that nature had meant him to be an
artist, and helped nature as much as he could by his own exertions, the
literary talent which was in him would not be stifled altogether, and
under pretext of preparing a way for his artistic reputation, made him
undertake the "Painter's Camp."

It may be easily realized that with his elaborate system of study, which
required journeys and camping out, the taking of photographs, painting
indoors in wet weather, together with a course of reading for culture
and pleasure, and in addition literary composition, Gilbert's time was
fully occupied; still he was dissatisfied by the meagre result, and
fretted about it. He had, at the cost of much thought and money,
organized a perfect establishment, with wagons, tents, and boats, to go
and stay wherever he pleased; but wherever he went or stopped he almost
invariably met with rain and mist, and though he could draw or paint
inside the tent, he still required to see his subject, and how could he
possibly when the heavy rain-clouds enveloped the mountains as if in a
shroud, or when the mist threw a veil over all the landscape? I remember
going with him to camp out in Glencoe in delightful weather, which
lasted (for a wonder) throughout the journey and the day following it,
after which we were shut inside the tents by pouring or drizzling rain
for six consecutive days, when the only possible occupation was reading,
so that at last we were beaten back home with a few bad photographs and
incomplete sketches as the fruits of a week's expedition.

At first we did not attach much importance to the weather, even if it
wasted time. My husband had taken the island on a lease of four years,
and it seemed to us that almost anything might be achieved in the course
of four years; we were so young, both of us--he twenty-four, and I
nineteen--that we had not yet realized how rapidly time flows--and it
flowed so delightfully with us as to make everything promising in our
eyes. The rain might be troublesome and interfere with work, but were
not the splendid colors of the landscape due to it? The lake might be
stormy, and the white foam of its waves dash even upon the panes of our
windows, but the clouds, driven wildly over the crests of the hills, and
rent by peaks and crags, cast ever-hanging shadows along their swift
course, and the shafts of the sun darting between them clothed the
spaces between in dazzling splendor. Our enjoyment of natural beauty was
not marred by considerations about the elements which produced it:
whether the rich color of the shrivelled ferns on the hillside had been
given by the fierce heat of a sun which, at the same time, had dried up
the streams and parched the meadows, we did not inquire; and if the
grandeur of the stormy lake on a dark night, with the moaning of the
breakers on the rocky shore, and the piercing shrieks of the blast,
involved the fall and ruin of many a poor man's cottage and the
destruction of hundreds of uprooted trees, we were so entranced in
admiration as to give no thought to the consequences. We derived
pleasure from everything, study or contemplation, fair weather or foul;
a twilight ramble on the island by the magnificent northern lights, or a
quiet sail on the solitary lake perfumed with the fragrance of the
honeysuckle or of the blue hyacinths growing so profusely on Inishail
and the Black Isles.

Well, we were happy; we did not stop to consider if we were _perfectly_
happy; but it was, without a doubt, the happiest time of our lives, for
we have always turned back to it with deep regret, and, as my husband
has expressed it in the "Painter's Camp"--"It is so full of
associations and memories which are so infinitely dear and sweet and
sacred, that the very word 'Highlands' will lay a sudden charm on my
heart forever."

Although we made no dissection of our happiness to know what it was made
of, there was a powerful element in it which I discern clearly now: we
were satisfied with ourselves, thinking we were fulfilling our duty to
the best of our understanding; if we erred, it was unconsciously. Since
then we have not been so positive, and sometimes have questioned the
wisdom of those days. But who can tell?... If my husband had not lived
those four years of Highland life he would not have been the man he
became, and his literary gift, though perhaps developed in some other
way, would never have acquired the charm which influenced afterwards so
many minds and hearts.



English and French manners.--My husband's relatives.--First journey to
France after our marriage.--Friends in London.--Miss Susan Hamerton.

The summer of 1858 had been unusually warm and pleasant in the
Highlands, and my husband had put many a study in his portfolios, in
spite of the interruptions to his work caused by a series of boils,
which, though of no importance, were exceedingly painful and irritating,
being accompanied by fever and sleeplessness: they were the result of a
regimen of salted meat and an insufficiency of fresh vegetables; for of
course those we succeeded in growing the first year were only fit for
the table towards the end of summer.

We had not been so solitary as I had expected, for with the warm weather
a few families had come back to their residences on the shores of the
lake, and had called upon us. I had felt rather timid and awkward, as I
could not speak English; but the ladies being kindly disposed, and
generally knowing a little French, we managed to get on friendly terms,
particularly when left to ourselves, for I was very much afraid of
Gilbert's strictures--I will explain for what reasons in particular. He
was, as I have said before, a very good and competent teacher, but very
exacting, and he had repeatedly said that he could put up better with my
faults were they the usual recognized mistakes of a foreigner, but that
unluckily mine were vulgarisms. This was very humiliating, as I must
confess I took a little pride in my French, which had been often praised
as elegant and pure, and this had fostered in me a taste for
conversation such as was still to be enjoyed in intelligent French
society at that time, and of which I had never been deprived at home, my
father being an excellent conversationalist, and receiving political
friends of great talent as orators and debaters, such as Michel de
Bourges, Baudin, Madier-de-Montjau, Boysset, and many others, as well as
literary people.

On the other hand, it must be explained that I was unknown to my
husband's relations, and aware of some prejudices against me among them,
particularly on the part of his Aunt Susan,--the younger of the two
sisters who had brought him up. She only knew that I was French, a Roman
Catholic, and without fortune; all these defects were the very opposite
of what she had dreamt of for her nephew, and her disappointment had
been so bitter when she had heard of his engagement that, to excuse it
in her own eyes, she had convinced herself that a French girl could only
be flippant, extravagantly fond of amusement, and neglectful of homely
duties; a Roman Catholic must of necessity be narrow-minded and bigoted,
and the want of fortune betrayed low birth and lack of education. These
views had been expressed at length to my betrothed, together with severe
reproaches and admonitions, and it was in vain that he had attempted to
justify his choice; his aunt persisted in attributing it solely to a
passion he had been too weak to master. At last our marriage drawing
near, Gilbert wrote to his aunt that if her next letter contained
anything disrespectful to me he would return it, and do the same for the
following ones, without opening them; and the correspondence had ceased.

It was quite different with his aunt Mary, who must also have been
disappointed by his marriage, for with her aristocratic tastes and
notions she had desired for her nephew a bride of rank, and an heiress
to put him again in the station befitting the family name, to which his
education and talents seemed to entitle him. But she had confidence in
his judgment, and loved him with so generous a love that she
congratulated him warmly when he was accepted, and wrote me an
affectionate letter of thanks, and a welcome as a new member of the

Of course my husband had often talked to me about his aunts; not much
was said of Miss Susan, but a great deal of his dear guardian, who had
been like a mother to him, and who now wrote encouragingly to me from
time to time about my English, and my new life. He praised both his
aunts for their good management of a small income, for the position they
had been able to retain in society, and particularly for their lady-like
manners and good breeding; explaining sometimes that I should probably
find it different in some respects from French _comme-il-faut_, and
mentioning in what particulars. I felt that he would be very sensitive
about the opinions his aunts would form of me, and I dreaded that of
Miss Susan Hamerton. He had put me on my guard on some points; for
instance, about the French custom of always addressing people as
Monsieur or Madame, which was hard for me to relinquish, as it seemed
rude; and I was also told not to be always thanking servants for their
services (as we do in France), if I wished to be considered well-bred.
But besides what was pointed out to me, I noticed many other things
which ought to be toned down in my nature and habits, if I meant to
acquire what I heard called lady-like manners. I was at that time very
vivacious, merry, and impulsive, and so long as I had lived in France
this natural disposition had been looked upon as a happy one, and rather
pleasant than otherwise; but I did not notice anything resembling it in
our visitors, who were said to be real ladies, or lady-like. They looked
to my French eyes somewhat indifferent and unconcerned: it is true that
they were all my seniors by at least half-a-score of years, but the fact
did not put me more at ease. However, as they showed great kindness, and
frequently renewed their visits and invitations, I was led to think that
their judgment had not gone against me, and this gave me some courage
for the day of my meeting with my Aunt Susan. And that day was drawing
near, my husband having promised his relations that we should visit them
after six months, which was the delay granted to me to learn a little
English; and although I could not and dared not speak it at the end of
the allotted time, no respite was allowed.

It was arranged that after our stay in Lancashire we should go on to
Paris. This news was received with great joy and thankfulness in my
family, where we had not been expected so soon, and where the sorrow for
my absence was still so keen that my father wrote to my husband: "Chaque
fois que je rentre je m'attends à la voir accourir au devant de moi et
chaque désillusion est suivie de tristesse. Il n'est pas jusqu'au piano
dont le mutisme me fait mal. J'ai beau me dire que ces impatiences, ces
chagrins sont de la faiblesse: je le sais, je le sens, et je n'en suis
pas plus fort."

The love of improvements, which was one of Gilbert's characteristics,
had led him to plan a road on the island, which should go from the house
to the lowest part of the shore, where the lake dried up in summer, so
as to facilitate the conveyance of goods, which could then be carted
without unloading from Inverary to the barn or kitchen-door. He gave
very minute directions to Thursday and Dugald, and set them to their
work just before we left for France, telling them that he expected to
find the road finished on our return.

We started in November, and arrived at Todmorden on a wet day; and just
before leaving the railway carriage we were much amused by a gentleman
who answered the query "Is this Todmorden?" by letting down the window
and thrusting his hand out, after which he gravely said: "It is raining;
it must be Todmorden."

My husband's uncle, Thomas Hamerton, with his two daughters, was
awaiting us at the station to welcome us and take us to his house, where
we found Mrs. Hamerton, who received us very kindly, but called me Mrs.
Philip Gilbert, because she despaired of ever pronouncing my Christian
name rightly. I begged her to call me "niece," and her husband gave the
example by calling me "my niece Eugeneï." Our cousins Anne and Jane
spoke French very creditably, although they had never been in France,
and we were soon on friendly terms. When my husband was away, they
translated my answers to their mother's numerous questions about our
life in the Highlands, my occupations, tastes, French habits, and what
not. Although my powers of expression in English were very limited, I
understood the greater part of what was said, and Mrs. Hamerton and my
cousins being so encouraging, I did not feel so timid, and if I had
stayed longer I should most certainly have made rapid progress. On that
score my husband--P. G., as they called him in the family circle--was
taken to task and scolded for having been too severe with "his poor
little foreign wife." His cousins, with whom he was on brotherly terms,
were much pleased with the soft French pronunciation of the name
Gilbert, and dropped the P. G. decisively, to the great wonder of their

The following day was fixed by my husband as the day of our trial,--that
is, for our visit to his aunts, who lived on a steep eminence above
Todmorden, in a pleasant house, "The Jumps." Aunt Mary, in order to
spare me, had offered to come down to meet us at her brother's; but as
she suffered from some kind of heart complaint (the knowledge of which
kept her loving nephew in constant alarm) we were afraid of the effect
that fatigue and emotion might have, and preferred to encounter Miss
Susan Hamerton.

The reception was typical of the different dispositions towards us. Aunt
Mary was standing at the door, straining her eyes to see us sooner, and
came forward to embrace me and to receive the kisses of her beloved
nephew; then she whispered that "she had hoped Susan would have gone
away on a visit to her friends; but she had remained obdurate to all
hints and entreaties." So there was nothing for it but to meet her,
since she would have it so; and with a beating heart I was led to the
drawing-room by my husband. That the reader may not be misled into
believing that a life-long estrangement resulted from the following
scene, I will quote a passage from the preface to "Human Intercourse,"
which gives the unforeseen result of my acquaintance with Miss Susan

"A certain English lady, influenced by the received ideas about human
intercourse which define the conditions of it in a hard and sharp
manner, was strongly convinced that it would be impossible for her to
have friendly relations with another lady whom she had never seen, but
was likely to see frequently. All her reasons would be considered
excellent reasons by those who believe in maxims and rules. It was plain
that there could be nothing in common. The other lady was neither of the
same country, nor of the same religious and political parties, nor of
the same generation. These facts were known, and the inference deduced
from them was that intercourse would be impossible. After some time the
English lady began to perceive that the case did not bear out the
supposed rules; she discovered that the younger lady might be an
acceptable friend.

"At last the full, strange truth became apparent--that she was
singularly well adapted, better adapted than any other human being, to
take a filial relation to the elder, especially in times of sickness,
when her presence was a wonderful support. Then the warmest affection
sprang up between the two, lasting till separation by death, and still
cherished by the survivor."

But the first meeting held out no such promise. There, on the couch, was
an elderly lady, sitting stiff and straight, with a book in her hands,
from which her eyes were never raised, even when she acknowledged our
entrance by a studiously slow, chilling, and almost imperceptible bend
of the head. I saw my husband's face flush with anger as we bowed to my
new relation; but I pressed his hand entreatingly, and we sat down,
attempting to ignore the hostile presence, and to talk as if we found
ourselves in ordinary circumstances. Poor Aunt Mary, thinking it must be
unendurable to me, soon proposed that we should go to the dining-room
for refreshments, and her proposition was accepted with alacrity. We
left the dining-room with the same ceremonial which had followed our
entrance, and were rewarded by the same frigid and distant movement of
the silent figure on the sofa. We remained some time with Aunt Mary, and
took an affectionate leave of her, my husband giving a promise that on
our return journey we would stay a few days at "The Jumps," whether her
sister chose to be at home or away.

I have related this episode at some length, although it seems to concern
me more than my husband, because the influence it had on his life was so
important. It is almost certain that if Miss Susan Hamerton had behaved
towards us like her sister, my husband would never have thought of going
to live in France. At the end of our lease at Innistrynich, he would
have chosen a residence in some picturesque part of England, and would
have easily induced his aunts to settle as near as possible to us. Their
example and advice in household matters would have been invaluable to
me, whilst the affectionate intercourse would have grown closer and
dearer as we came to know each other better. However, this was not to

We soon left Todmorden after our visit to "The Jumps," and when we
reached Paris there were great rejoicings in my family, where my husband
was fully appreciated. He liked to talk of politics, literature, and art
with my father, whose experience was extensive, and whose taste was
refined and discriminating; he awoke in his son-in-law an interest in
sculpture which hitherto had not been developed, but which grew with
years. As to my mother, brothers, and sister, they loved him for his
kindness, and also because he had made a life of happiness for me.

In Paris we went to see everything of artistic interest, but especially
of architectural interest. I knew nothing of architecture myself, but
was naturally attracted by beauty, and my husband guided my opinions
with his knowledge. I noticed with surprise his indifference to most of
the pictures in the Museum of the Louvre, and he explained, later, that
he could not appreciate them at that period in the development of his
artistic taste, which was at that time retarded by the Pre-Raphaelite
influence. There was certainly a great evolution of mind between this
state of quasi-indifference and the fervid enthusiasm which made him say
to me when we came to live in Paris: "At any rate there is for me, as a
compensation for the beauty of natural scenery, an inexhaustible source
of interest and study in the Louvre."

The Museum of the Luxembourg containing several pictures by modern
artists, whose merits he recognized, was frequently visited by us--and
he admired heartily among others, Rosa Bonheur, Daubigny, Charles
Jacque, and especially Troyon, whose works went far to shake his faith
in topographic painting, and sowed the first seeds of the French
school's influence on his mind.

At the expiration of the month we returned to London, and stayed with
friends; my husband introduced me to Mr. and Mrs. Mackay, to Mrs. Leslie
and her family, to the sons and daughters of Constable, of whom he
speaks in his autobiography, and they all received me very kindly, and
told me what hopeful views they entertained of his future career. We
also called upon Millais, for whose talent my husband had a great
admiration. He received us quite informally, and we had a long talk in
French, which he pronounced remarkably well; he explained it to me by
saying that he belonged to a Jersey family.

It was also during this London visit that Mr. Hamerton made the
acquaintance of Mr. Calderon, who also spoke French admirably,--an
acquaintance which was to ripen into friendship, and last to the end of
my husband's life. He also went to all the winter exhibitions, public or
private, where he stood rooted before all the works which could teach
him something of his difficult art; and when we left he was certain of
having acquired new knowledge.

Miss Susan Hamerton having said to Aunt Mary that she had no objection
to our being her sister's guests, we went straight to "The Jumps" after
leaving London. This time she received us with polite coldness,--like
perfect strangers,--but she was not insulting, only at times somewhat
ungenerously sarcastic with me, who was not armed to parry her thrusts.
I felt quite miserable, for I did not wish to widen the gap between her
and her nephew, and on the other hand I did not see how our intercourse
could be made more pleasant by any endeavors of mine, for I was ignorant
of the art of ingratiating myself with persons whom I felt adverse to
me, and I must avow that I had also a certain degree of pride which
prevented me from making advances when unfairly treated. I had always
lived in an atmosphere of confidence, love, and goodwill,--perhaps I had
been a little spoilt by the kindness of my friends, and now it seemed
hard to be a butt for ill-natured sarcasms. These shafts, however, were
seldom, if ever, let loose in the presence of my husband, who would not
have tolerated it; the want of welcome being as much as he could bear.
Still, there was no doubt that matters had slightly mended since our
first visit, and an undeniable token of this was the fact of Miss Susan
Hamerton extending her hand to each of us at parting. Had I been told
then that this reluctant hand would become a firm support for me; that
these cold eyes would he filled with warm tears of love, and that I
should be tenderly pressed to this apparently unsympathizing bosom, I
could not have believed it. Yet the day came when Aunt Susan proved my
dearest friend, and when Mr. Thomas Hamerton said to his nephew, "Susan
loves you much, no doubt, but Eugénie is A1 for her."



Visits from friends and relatives.--A Frenchman in the Highlands.--
Project of buying the island of Innistrynich.

When we arrived at Innistrynich from the Continent, all our neighbors
had left Loch Awe, and we had only as occasional visitors the doctor and
our landlord--the rare and far-between calls of the minister ceasing
with the fine days; but we were not afraid of our solitude _à deux_, and
we had the pleasant prospect of entertaining Aunt Mary and Anne Hamerton
early in the summer, as well as the husband of my godmother, M.
Souverain, a well-known Parisian publisher, whose acquaintance Mr.
Hamerton had made through my father, and who had promised to come to see
us. Meanwhile, we resumed our usual rules of work, and my husband began
several oil pictures at once, so as to lose no time in having to wait
for the drying of the colors.

As he had made great progress in his French, he proposed that we should
change our parts, and that nothing but English should be spoken, read,
or written by me, except my letters to French correspondents. I delayed
my submission a while, for it seemed that if I could not speak--even to
him--confidentially and with perfect ease, that indeed would be
solitude. At last I yielded to his entreaties, strengthened by my
father's remonstrances, and some months of constantly renewed endeavors
not always successful, and sometimes accompanied by weariness,
discouragement, and tears--began for me, my teacher never swerving from
his rule, not even when, despairing of making myself understood, I used
a French word or expression. On such occasions he invariably shook his
head and said: "I do not understand French; speak English," at the same
time helping me out of my difficulty as much as he could.

Aunt Mary and Anne Hamerton had promised to come to see us during the
summer, and we had repeated our invitation in the beginning of the
spring of 1859, but Aunt Mary wrote to her nephew: "I am looking forward
with great pleasure to my visit to you and Eugénie, but I think I had
_better_ NOT come till the little cherub has come, because anybody would
know better what to do than I should."

She wrote again on June 6, 1859: "I am very glad indeed that Eugénie and
the dear little boy are doing well; give my very best love to Eugénie,
and tell her that now Anne and I are looking forward with great pleasure
to visiting you as soon as we can."

They came in July, and Aunt Mary was delighted with the beauty of the
scenery, with the strong and healthy appearance of her little
grand-nephew, whom she held in her arms as much and as long as her
strength allowed, but especially by the recovered affectionate intimacy
with my husband, and also by the certainty of our domestic happiness.

Anne Hamerton greatly enjoyed the excursions on land and water, and so
the days passed pleasantly. When my husband was painting, either in his
studio or out-of-doors, we sat near him and read aloud by turns. Aunt
Mary was very fond of Moore's poetry, and read it well and feelingly,
though her voice was rather tremulous and weak. To Anne were given
passages of "Modern Painters" as examples of style, and Lamartine's
"Jocelyn" for French pronunciation. I fear that Aunt Mary's appreciation
of it was more imaginary than real. "The Newcomes" fell to my lot, being
easier than poetry, and gave rise to many a debate about its superiority
or inferiority to Thackeray's other works. As an author he was not
justly appreciated by Aunt Mary, who, on account of her aristocratic
loyalty, did not forgive him for "The Four Georges."

We had also a good deal of music; my husband, having been accustomed to
play duets with his cousin, soon resumed the practice, and though I had
not encouraged him as a solo-player, I liked well enough to listen to
his violin with a piano accompaniment. Anne's playing was only mediocre,
but as she did not attempt anything above her skill, it was pleasant
enough; she accompanied all the French songs I had brought with me, and
they were numerous, for at that time there was no _soirée_ in
Paris--homely or fashionable--without _romances_; the public taste was
not so fastidious as it has since become, and did not expect from a
school-girl the performance of an operatic prima donna. When out in the
boat on a peaceful and serene night, my husband rowing us slowly on the
glassy water, it seemed that the melodies which rose and spread in the
hazy atmosphere were the natural complement to these enchanted hours.
Anne often sang "Beautiful Star" or "Long Time Ago," and I was always
asked for "Le Lac" or "La Chanson de Fortunio."

The arrival of Monsieur Souverain added a new element of cheerfulness to
our little party: he was so thoroughly French--that is, so ignorant of
other habits than French ones, so naïvely persuaded of their superiority
to all others, so keenly alive to any point of difference, and so openly
astonished when he discovered any, always wondering at the reason for
this want of similarity--that he was a perpetual source of interest to
our lady visitors. He could not speak English, but he always addressed
Aunt Mary in his voluble and rapid Parisian French, and she was all
smiles, and appeared to enjoy extremely his run of anecdotes about
French celebrities she had never heard of. Now and then she let fall a
word or sometimes a phrase totally irrelevant to what he had been
saying, but which in his turn he politely pretended to appreciate,
although he had not understood a single syllable of it. It was most
amusing to see them walking side by side, evidently enjoying each
other's society and animated conversation; only we remarked that they
were careful to remain well out of profane hearing by keeping a good
deal in front of us, or else loitering behind.

We had been awaiting M. Souverain for some days, no date having been
fixed, when one morning our attention was aroused by loud and prolonged
shouts coming from that part of the road which affords a view of
Innistrynich, before descending to the bay. With the help of his
telescope, my husband soon discovered a small, spare human form, now
waving a pocket-handkerchief, and now making a speaking-trumpet of both
hands to carry its appeal as far as the island. "It must be M.
Souverain," Gilbert said, as he sent a shout of welcome, and ran to the
pier to loosen the boat and row it across the bay.

He had scarcely landed our visitor when enthusiastic ejaculations met
our ears: "Mais c'est le Paradis terrestre ici!" "Quel pays de rêve!"
"Quel séjour enchanteur!" Then, with a change of tone habitual to him,
and a little sarcastic: "Yes, but as difficult to find as dream-land; I
thought I should have to turn back to France without meeting with you,
for no one seemed to be aware of the existence of the 'lac Ave' any more
than of 'Ineestreeneeche,' and I was beginning to suspect your
descriptions to have been purely imaginary, when _un trait de lumière_
illuminated my brain. I bought a map of Scotland, and without troubling
myself any longer with the impossible pronunciation of impossible names,
I stuck a pin on the spot of the map that I wanted to reach and showed
it either to a railway _employé_ or to a _matelot_, and I was sure to
hear 'All right,'--I have learnt that at least. But upon my life, to
this day I can't explain why no one seemed to understand me, even at
Inverary, at the hotel. I asked: 'Quel chemin doit on prendre pour aller
chez Monsieur Amertone, dans l'île d'Ineestreeneeche sur le lac Ave?'
That was quite plain, was not it?... Well, they only shook their heads
till I gave them the address you had written for me, then of course they
came out with 'All right,' and a good deal besides which was of no
consequence to me, and at last I am here 'all right.' But why on earth
do they spell Londres, London; Glascow, Glasgow; and Cantorbéry,
Canterbury? It is exceedingly puzzling to strangers." My husband was
greatly tickled, and rather encouraged this flow of impressions; he
thought it extremely interesting in a cultivated and intelligent man who
was far from untravelled, for he had been in Spain, Belgium, Germany,
Italy, and Algeria, and who still evinced a childlike wonder at every
unfamiliar object. For instance, he would say: "Now, Mr. Hamerton, I am
sure you can't justify this queer custom in English hotels, of putting
on the table a roast of eight pounds' weight, _at least_, or a whole
cheese. I can't eat all that, then why serve it me?... And why also
those immense washing-basins? They are so cumbersome and heavy that it
is almost as much as I can achieve to empty them: I don't take a bath in
them, I take it in a _baignoire_, and I have not to empty it."

The conversation, however, often ran on serious subjects, and M.
Souverain heard with deep interest from my husband an account of his
plans, both literary and artistic, and said once: "If you intend to
devote your life to painting Highland scenery, and since your wife loves
this admirable island as much as you do, why should not you buy it and
secure the benefit of the improvements you are carrying on? It is
somewhat solitary at times, no doubt, but as you will be obliged to go
to London and Paris every year at least, you might arrange to do so in
winter and enjoy society there, and a change at the same time. You tell
me that your property yields at present but a very poor income,--why
not sell it, or part of it, since it has no attraction for you, and live
here, on your own property, free of rent?"

Gilbert himself had entertained the idea, and had developed it to me
with flattering possibilities and speculations, but I was already
beginning to fear that our present existence was too exquisite to last.
We had received bad news from Uncle Thomas about the rents; the mill was
not let, and would require a heavy outlay before it could find a tenant;
the machinery was old, out-of-date, and would have to be replaced by new
with the modern improvements, and the cottages surrounding the mill were
likely to remain tenantless so long as the mill did not work, or the
rents be but irregularly forthcoming. In fact, our income was already
insufficient, and my husband was seriously considering whether he ought
to borrow in order to set up the mill again, or whether it would be more
profitable to sell the property and draw upon the capital as we required
it, till he could sell his pictures. At last he decided to consult his
uncle, who was a prudent man of business, and had a long experience as
landed proprietor. After due consideration Mr. T. Hamerton advised him
to go to the necessary expense for repairs to the mill.

Meanwhile M. Souverain was growing more enchanted with Loch Awe day by
day, and could not bear the idea that we might be turned out of
Innistrynich some day by a new owner (for the present one was getting
old, and had said that at the end of our lease he would put it up for
sale), so he tempted my husband by the almost irresistible offer of a
third of the purchase money, in consideration of having two rooms
reserved for himself and his wife--my godmother--during two of the
summer months. But Aunt Mary's secret desire--and perhaps hope--of
seeing us established at a future time nearer to herself, suggested some
very weighty considerations against the project. "When your child or
maybe children grow up and have to attend school, will you resign
yourselves to send them so far as will be inevitable if you are still
here?" she said; "and will your healths be able to stand the severity of
the climate when you are no longer so young? The distance from a doctor
is another serious affair in case of sickness, and I myself, as well as
Eugénie's parents, am on the downward course, and may soon be deprived
of the possibility of undertaking so fatiguing a journey." All this had
been foreseen by her nephew, of course, but his attachment to the place
was such that he found ready answers to all objections. "Our children
would be educated at home--the climate, though damp, was not more
severe or unhealthy than the average--doctors were of no good, generally
speaking--and we might visit our relations more frequently in case they
were unable to come to us."

So the question remained open.

Gilbert, thinking it desirable to give his guests a more extensive
acquaintance with the surrounding country than his boats could afford,
proposed to take a carriage, which would be ferried from Port Sonachan
to the other side of the lake, after which we might drive as much as
possible along the shores till we reached Ardhonnel Castle. If we
arrived early we would visit the ruins and the island; if too late, it
would be reserved for the following morning, as we intended to spend the
night at the inn, and to resume our drive in time to be back at
Innistrynich for dinner.

We started merrily,--Aunt Mary, Anne Hamerton, M. Souverain, my
husband, myself, and baby; for our guests kindly insisted upon my being
one of the party, in spite of my small encumbrance, which I could not
leave behind. I did my best to be excused, but they were unanimous in
declaring that they would not go if I stayed.

"You need not walk unless you like," they said, "for there will always
be the carriage, the boat, or the inn for you."

It was a splendid day of bright sunshine in a tenderly blue sky, with a
pure, soft breeze hardly rippling the lake. We all took our seats inside
the roomy, open carriage, my husband leaving the management of the
horses to the driver that he might be free to enjoy the scenery. M.
Souverain remarked that if the Highlanders were a strong race, their
horses hardly deserved the same epithet; and indeed the pair harnessed
to our carriage appeared very lean and somewhat shaky, but the driver
affirmed that they were capital for hill-work, though he would not swear
to their swiftness, and as we did not want to go fast, it was again "all
right" from M. Souverain when the explanation had been translated to

Fast we certainly did not go, and, moreover, we often stopped to admire
the changing views, but the poor starved beasts did not pick up any more
spirit during their frequent rests; they painfully resumed their dull
jog-trot for a short time, which soon dwindled to slow, weary paces that
even the whip in no way hastened. However, with plenty of time before
us, we only turned it into a joke, pretending to be terrified by the
ardor of our steeds.

My husband had to tell M. Souverain all the legends of the places we
were passing, and as he himself "courtisait la Muse," he listened with
rapt attention, so as to be able to treat the subjects in French verse.
"This country is a mine for a poet!" he frequently exclaimed.

Luckily we had packed some provisions in the carriage, for the sun was
already declining,--like the pace of the horses,--and we were not yet at
the end of the drive by a good distance.

The fresh air had sharpened our appetites, and Gilbert proposed that we
should have something to eat whilst the horses were taken out of harness
and given a feed to refresh them and give them a little more vigor for
the rest of the journey.

By the time we had finished our collation the air had freshened, and it
was twilight; we agreed that now it was desirable to get within shelter
as soon as possible, although the charm of the hour was indescribable;
but the thin white mist was beginning to float over the lake, and the
last remnants of the afterglow had entirely died out. What was our
dismay when we found that all my husband's efforts, joined to those of
the driver, to make the horses get up were ineffectual; there they lay
on the grass, and neither expostulations, pulls, cracks of the whip, or
even kicks, I am sorry to say, seemed to produce the slightest effect
upon their determination to remain stretched at full length on the
ground. What were we to do? The driver vociferated in Gaelic, but the
poor brutes did not mind, and they would have been cruelly maltreated if
we had not interfered to protect them. Gilbert said to the man: "You see
well enough that they have no strength to work, therefore allow them to
rest till they are able to go back. I leave you here, and as I have
ladies with me I must try to find some sort of shelter for the night."
The man was almost frantic when he saw us go, but we all agreed with my
husband, and in the hope of finding a cottage set forth resolutely on

It was now almost dark, but our spirits were not damped yet, and, as M.
Souverain remarked, it was "une véritable aventure." Still, I was
beginning to find my baby somewhat heavy after walking for
three-quarters of an hour, when the gentlemen in front of us cheerily
encouraged our exertions by calling out, "A cottage, a cottage!" and
when we came up to them they were loudly knocking at the door, unable to
obtain a sign of life from within; however, the smell of burning peat
clearly indicated that the cottage was inhabited, and my husband shouted
our story, begging that the door might be opened and the ladies allowed
to rest. Then on the other side of the door, which remained closed, a
voice answered in Gaelic we knew not what, except that the tone of it
was unmistakably angry, and unbroken silence ensued.

There was nothing left to us but to resume our walk, enlivened by M.
Souverain singing the celebrated song, "Chez les montagnards Écossais
l'hospitalité se donne," etc. Every one in turn offered to hold the
baby; but Aunt Mary, I knew, had enough to do for herself, Anne was not
strong, and my confidence in the fitness of the gentlemen for the
function of nurse was very limited. My husband kept up our courage by
affirming that we were not far from Ardhonnel, and consequently within a
short distance of the inn; indeed, he called us to the side of the road,
from which we could see the noble ruin with our own eyes, now that the
new moon had risen and was peeping between the clouds occasionally. It
was a welcome sight, for by this time we were really weary; but alas!
the inn was on the other side of the lake, and we had no boat; still,
Gilbert felt sure there must be one not very far off, to take the people
across, and after surveying the shore for a while he discovered a little
pier, with a rowing-boat chained to it, and a very small cottage almost
close to where we stood; so he went to knock at the door, and again
Gaelic was given in answer. But this time the door was opened by a woman
who had only taken time to put on a short petticoat, and to throw a
small shawl over her head; her feet, legs, and arms were bare, and she
looked strong and placid; her English was scanty, but she understood
pretty well what we wanted, and declared herself willing to row our
party to the other side if any one could steer, for her "man" was asleep
in bed and too tired for work; so my husband took a pair of oars, the
woman another, and I steered from indications frequently given. At last
we stood in front of the inn, and it was past midnight. Not a light was
visible, not a sound was heard, and there was no sign of life except a
faint blue wreath of peat-smoke; but it was enough to revive our
energies and hopes. In response to our united appeals a dishevelled head
of red hair cautiously looked down from a half-opened window, and our
story had to be told again. Well, this time we were let in and allowed
to sit down, whilst the ostler's wife was being roused as well as the
servant, for we were told that the tourists' season, being already over,
the inn was no longer in trim for customers. This was bad news, for the
good effects of the luncheon had passed off, and as soon as we could
rest and forget our fatigue we became sensible of ravenous hunger. The
good innkeeper and his wife were so obliging and good-hearted that they
kept deprecating the absence of all the comforts they would have liked
to give us. However, my husband had brought a large basket of dry peat,
and M. Souverain heaped it up dexterously, and blew upon what remained
of red ashes under his pile, whilst a kettle was placed upon the glowing
embers. "I am afraid I can't offer you the same cheer that you would
give me at the _maison Dorée_," Gilbert said to his friend. "_Ça serait
gâter la couleur locale_; oh! some bread-and-cheese, with a bottle of
beer, will do very well for me." But there was neither bread nor cheese
nor beer; and no kind of abode, however miserable, had M. Souverain ever
known to be without bread. "What do they live upon then?" he asked.
"Porridge, and they occasionally make scones," was the reply. Luckily
for us there happened to be an ample supply of them, freshly made, and
with these, boiled eggs, and fried bacon, we had one of the best
appreciated meals we ever tasted. It was followed by hot whiskey-toddy
and cigars for the gentlemen, by tea and clotted cream for the ladies,
and for a while we quite revived; but sleep would have its way, and
there being only two beds, occupied by the owners of the inn, they
charitably yielded them to us; and when the sheets had been changed,
Aunt Mary and Anne shared one, whilst I thankfully retired to the other
with baby. The gentlemen remained near the fire in the dining-room, one
of them stretched on the sofa, and the other using its cushions as a

On the following morning I learned the meaning of the word "smart" for
the first time, it being so frequently repeated by our good hostess, who
had made room for me by the kitchen fire to dress my child. "How smart
is the sweet baby!" she constantly exclaimed with honest admiration, as
she made him laugh by tickling his little feet or chucking his chin.

Our breakfast was a repetition of the supper in every detail, and our
enjoyment of it more limited. My husband soon went out to hire a boat
and a couple of men to row us back again. They took us first to
Ardhonnel, of which he has given a description in "The Isles of Loch

  "A gray, tall fortress, on a wooded isle,
  Not buried, but adorned by foliage."

The day was fine again, and the return home ideal; Gilbert steered and
relieved each rower in turn, while they sang their Scotch melodies with
voices strong and clear, and we all joined in the chorus. When we
reached Port Sonachan we heard that our driver had only arrived towards
mid-day, and that his horses not being strong enough to stop the
carriage on the slope to the ferry, had fallen into the lake, from which
they were rescued with great difficulty. We saw the carriage still
dripping wet, which had been left out to dry, and for the repairs of
which Gilbert later on received a bill that he indignantly refused to

This "romantic excursion," as M. Souverain called it, had so much
developed his fancy for Loch Awe that, before taking leave of us, he
offered to go halves with my husband in the purchase of Innistrynich;
but there was plenty of time for reflection, as the lease had four years
to run, so no decision was taken then.

A fortnight after the departure of our Parisian guest, Aunt Mary and
Anne left us regretfully,--the former especially, who was going back
reluctantly to the jealous remarks of her sister, and did not feel
disposed to listen patiently to criticisms on her nephew's character and
conduct or on mine. From her letters afterwards she had not a pleasant
time of it, but relieved the painfulness of it as much as possible by
accepting at intervals several invitations from her friends in the
neighborhood. This state of affairs made my husband very miserable, for
he would have done anything to secure his Aunt Mary's happiness and
tranquillity of mind; and to help him in his endeavors, I proposed that
she should come to live with us. This is part of her answer:--

"I hope to return with you in May next. Give my very best love to dear
Eugénie, and tell her that I thank her very much for proposing to
gratify your affection to me by proposing that I should live with her
and you; but Susan and I have taken each other for better and worse,
unless some deserving person of the other sex should propose, and the
one he proposes to _should_ say, Yes, if you please. But I think we
shall never separate."

It is with regret that I have to recall Miss Susan Hamerton's unamiable
temper at that time; one thing comes in mitigation, but I only knew of
it years afterwards: she was suffering much from unavowed nervousness.
Her nephew told me that when living in the same house with her he had
sometimes noticed that she ate hardly anything and looked unwell; but to
his affectionate inquiries she used to answer: "My health is good
enough, thank you; and I know what you imply when you pretend to be
anxious about it--you mean that I am cross and ill-tempered." She made
it a point never to plead guilty to any physical ailment, as if it were
a weakness unworthy of her, and also to discourage all attempts at

Another thing I learned too late was her jealous disposition, which
explained her attitude towards her nephew at the time of his marriage;
it was love turned sour, and although we tried to discover the cause of
her bitterness in her worldly disappointment, we became convinced that
she would have felt as bitter had the bride been wealthy and of noble
lineage, because her jealousy would have tortured her as much, if not
more. She became jealous of her sister when we invited her; and long
afterwards, when her brother became a widower, and she went to live with
him, he confided to his nephew that he had had to bear frequent
outbursts of jealousy. It was merely the exaggeration of a tender
sentiment which could not brook a rival.



Financial complications.--Summer visitors.--Boats and boating.--Visit to
Paris.--W. Wyld.--Project of a farm in France.--Partnership with M.

While the "Painter's Camp" was progressing, which was to be the
foundation of my husband's success, three pictures had been sent to the
Academy and rejected; but after the first feeling of disappointment he
was cheered up again by a favorable opinion from Millais about those
pictures--one of them in particular, a sailing-boat on Loch Awe in the
twilight, which was pronounced true in effect and color. Aunt Mary wrote
to him soon after: "I am so very glad of the account you give of your
pictures, and of Millais' opinion of them; it is very encouraging. I do
hope truly that they will attract gain, good-will, and success for you."

As it would have been very expensive to have the pictures sent to and
fro, with the deterioration of the frames, packing, etc., Mr. Hamerton
begged a friend who lived in London to keep them in one of his empty
rooms (he had a whole floor unfurnished) till there were a sufficient
number of them for a private exhibition, in which he intended to give
lectures on artistic subjects.

The mill, after thorough and expensive repairs, had been let, but there
was bad news from the tenant of the coal-mine, who refused to pay the
rent any longer, under pretext that the mine was exhausted. This looked
very serious, as, after referring the matter to his uncle, who was a
solicitor, my husband learned that the lease made during his minority
did not specify the quantity of coal that the tenant was allowed to
extract from the mine, and, of course, as much as possible had been
taken out of it. Still, as there was an agreement to pay the rent during
twelve more years, the tenant's right to withdraw from the signed
agreement might be contested, and the affair had to be put into the
hands of a lawyer. This was a cause of great anxiety, and it was not the
only one. The health of my father had become very unsatisfactory of
late, and his situation was no longer secure. He had been on most
excellent terms with the English gentlemen who were at the head of the
firm in which he was cashier, but they were retiring from business, and
my father did not know what was coming next. He wrote on October 9,

"Enfin je commence à respirer; depuis bientôt six semaines je ne savais
pas vraiment où donner de la tête. Nous avons eu transformation de
société, inventaire, assemblée d'actionnaires, tout cela m'a donné un
effrayant surcroit de besogne et de fatigue, et je n'avais pas le
courage de reprendre la plume lorsque je rentrais au logis, harassé et
souffrant. Aujourd'hui nos affaires commencent à reprendre leur cours

On the 28th of the same month I find this phrase in one of his letters:
"Ma position est plus tendue que jamais et les changements survenus dans
notre administration me donnent des craintes sérieuses pour l'avenir."
Then we learned that a project for lighting Bucharest with gas was on
foot, and that my father was to go there to ascertain the chances of
success. Some outlay was necessary, and my husband, who had heard of it
through a friend, generously offered to defray the preliminary expenses;
his offer, however, was declined for the time, there being as yet no
certainty of profit.

Early in 1860 Gilbert had to leave Innistrynich to visit his property
and receive the rents. He always felt reluctant to go there, because of
the painful reminiscences of his early youth, and of the dreariness of
the scenery. There was also another reason, still more powerful,--he was
not made to be a landlord, being too tender-hearted. How often did it
happen that, instead of insisting on getting his rent from a poor
operative, he left some of his own money in the hand of wife or
child?--frequently enough in hard times, I know.

He was staying at "The Jumps," and went from there to Shaw, Burnley, and
Manchester; he never missed writing to me every day, either a short note
or a long letter, according to his spare time. In one of them he says:--

"Ma tante Marie est bien bonne, mais nous ne parlons jamais de choses
sérieuses--toujours des riens. Comme la vie est étrange! à quoi bon
aller loin pour voir ses amis quand ils vous disent simplement qu'il
fait froid!... ma tante Susan est assez gracieuse, mais j'ai vu des
_nuages_. Je suis allé hier à Manchester où j'avais à faire; j'y ai vu
quelques tableaux et je suis de plus en plus convaincu que la meilleure
chose pour moi est de peindre plutôt dans le genre des _vrais_ peintres
Français que dans celui de nos Pré-Raphaelites, ces réalistes
impitoyables qui ne nous épargnent pas un brin de gazon."

This letter contains a strong proof of his mind's artistic evolution.

In the course of the summer we had several unexpected visitors, among
them Mr. and Mrs. Mackay, Mr. Pettie the artist, and the gentleman
described in the "Painter's Camp" as Gordon, who frequently
called,--sometimes with his son, sometimes alone, and on such occasions
generally remained for the night. Being an early riser, and indisposed
to remain idle till breakfast time, he was found in the morning knitting
an immense woollen stocking, which he afterwards took into use, and
found most comfortable wear for grouse-shooting, as he took care to
inform me.

We had once another visitor, who had come to paint from nature, and was
staying at the Dalmally inn; his name I will not mention on account of
a little adventure which made him so miserable that he left our house
breakfastless, rather than face me after it. He had been offered a
bedroom, and had slept soundly till about five in the morning, when
his attention was attracted by a small phrenological bust on the
chimney-piece, which he took into his bed, with the intention of
studying it at leisure. As he lay back on the pillow, however,
holding up the bust and turning it sideways to read the indications,
he became aware of a black dribble rapidly staining the sheets and
counterpane. Horrified at such a sight, he sprang out of bed, and
discovered--too late--that he had totally emptied the inkstand.

About the same time we had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with
Captain Clifton and his wife, Lady Bertha Clifton, who had rented a
large house on the other side of the lake, and proved very friendly
neighbors. Lady Bertha was extremely handsome; her voice was splendid,
and she sang readily when she was asked. Our neighbors had speculated a
good deal about her probable appearance, ways, and disposition, and the
news that a _lady in her own right_ was coming had created quite a
commotion. I asked to be enlightened on so important a subject, and soon
heard all the details from very willing lips. She was very simple in
dress, and often came to call upon us in a fresh cotton-print gown and
straw hat, with only the feather of a heron or a woodcock in it. Her
husband, Captain Clifton, retired from the army, spoke French fairly
well, and although he had little in common with Gilbert--being an
enthusiastic sportsman--soon became his most constant visitor. Both of
them liked the country and were fond of boating, and they both took an
interest in politics.

A very pleasant feature had been added to the lake by the appearance of
a small steamer belonging to a proprietor beyond Port Sonachan, who came
with his wife to Loch Awe every summer. They invited us from time to
time to join a fishing party, and we had either lunch or supper on
board. There was a cabin for shelter, and the ladies, being thus
protected against the almost unavoidable showers, readily joined the

In this summer of 1860 Aunt Mary came with our cousin Jane, whose sweet
disposition and charm of manner greatly disturbed the peace of mind of a
bachelor visitor, a distant relation of my husband, who was looking
about for a shooting. Everything in his behavior seemed pointing to a
not distant offer; but Gilbert, who was already a good judge of
character, strongly doubted the final step. He said to me: "If Henry is
too sorely tempted, he will run away rather than expose his wealth to
the perils of matrimony; he does not spend his money, he is constantly
earning more and accumulating, but he has told me that no amount of
conjugal happiness could be a compensation to him if, at the end of the
year, he found out that he had spent a thousand pounds more than what he
was accustomed to spend regularly." And it happened that he left
abruptly, just as my husband had foretold, but not without promising a
future commission for two pictures when his billiard-room should be

The love of boating was very strong in Gilbert, but the love of planning
new boats _with improvements_ was still stronger; in fact, he always had
in a portfolio plans more or less advanced for some kind of boat, and he
very often made models with his own hands. I was in constant fear of the
realization of these plans, of which I heard a great deal more than I
could understand. He was well aware of it, and sometimes stopped short
to say with a smile: "Now, don't go away; I won't bother you any longer
with boats." Unable to resist the temptation of devising improvements,
even when he resisted that of testing them for his own use, he gave the
benefit of his thoughts to his friends when they seemed likely to prove
useful. In the course of the spring, however, he had been at work
planning a much larger boat than those he already possessed; one which
might, when needful, carry a cart-load of goods across the bay, or the
whole camp to any part of the lake. I offered some timid remonstrances
about the probable cost, but he met them by affirming that it would be
an economy _in the end_, by saving labor. So two carpenters were fetched
from Greenock, and began to work under his direction.

The building of the boat, which of course took more time than had been
expected, delayed our departure for France, but at last we set off to
introduce our baby-boy to his relations.

Once in Paris, Mr. Hamerton saw a great deal of his kind friend, William
Wyld, whose advice he was better able to appreciate now that his ideas
about art were no longer topographic. He began at this stage of artistic
culture to enjoy composition and harmony of color; and though he still
thought that his friend's compositions were rather too obviously
artificial, he did not remain blind to their merit. He also saw more of
Alexandre Bixio, brother of the celebrated Garibaldian general, at whose
house he met renowned artists, men of letters, and politicians.
Alexandre Bixio had been one of the founders of the "Revue des Deux
Mondes," with Bulwer Lytton. He had acted as Vice-President of the
Assemblée Nationale, and had been sent to the Court of Victor Emmanuel
as Minister Plenipotentiary, and was an intimate friend of Cavour. One
evening, after dinner at his house, he took Mr. Hamerton aside, and
pointing to a young man engaged in an animated conversation with several
other guests, he said: "I am very much mistaken if that is not a future
Minister of State." "He looks very young," answered my husband, very
much astonished. "He is young, he was born in 1827; but remember his
name, and in a few years you will see if I am right: it is Signor
Sella." Four years later Signor Sella was Minister of Finance.

As my husband has told in his autobiography, I had a sister younger than
myself by seven years, very pretty and winning, about whose future we
were very anxious, on account of the recurring interruptions in her
studies, owing to my mother's distressing state of health. When periods
of illness came on, the whole duty of attendance upon her devolved on my
sister, disastrous as such breaks in her education might prove as the
girl grew up. During the intervals of sickness my mother yielded to our
entreaties, and Caroline was sent to school; but as a day-scholar she
often missed classes for one reason or another, being so often wanted,
and after becoming a boarder she never remained in the same institution
for more than a few months at a time. My mother kept hoping that the
trouble would not return, and tried to persuade us that now Caroline's
studies would be regular, and that being very intelligent, she would
soon be on a par with girls of her own age; but this state of things had
lasted ever since I was married, and I could not foresee the end of it.
We often talked about it, my husband and myself, and he soon guessed
that I wished to have her with us, but that knowing how much he liked
having our home to ourselves I would not ask him to bring another into
it, even though it were my sister. He was, however, with his usual
generosity, the first to offer it. Aware of how much it cost him I
accepted nevertheless, for we were both of one mind, and considered it
as a duty to be done. I looked upon my sister as my child, for my
mother's illness had begun when Caroline was so young that almost all
motherly cares had devolved upon me, who was the eldest. We kept our
project secret to the last, not to disturb the family peace, and being
sure of my father's acquiescence and of Caroline's delight. When the day
came, my husband's persuasion prevailed, and my sister was entrusted to
our care.

This time, while staying at "The Jumps," we noticed a great change in
Aunt Susan's behavior towards us; it was decidedly friendly, with now
and then an almost affectionate touch, and I was told privately that she
had thrown out hints about the pleasure that an invitation to
Innistrynich would give her, so the invitation was given before we left.

My husband applied to Caroline's teaching the system which had proved
effective with me, and made her read English aloud to him whilst he was
painting; I undertook the French and musical part of her education, and
her progress was rapid. For my sake Gilbert was very glad that I had
Caroline with me, because in the course of that year he camped out a
great deal, and it had become impossible for me to accompany him,
another little boy having been born in the beginning of February, and
his delicate health requiring constant care.

Our pecuniary troubles were increasing. The American war having broken
out, the mill, which had been repaired at great cost, was stopped in
consequence, and of course we got no rent either from it or from the
cottages, whilst the expenses of the little farm were heavy--hay being
at an extravagant price, because of the persistent rains, which in the
previous summer had rotted all the cut grass, and made it necessary to
bring hay from England. Although we kept two cows, our supply of milk
and cream was insufficient, and my husband made the calculation that
each cow consumed daily seven shillings' worth of hay in this spring,
though put on short rations. In fact, the state of our affairs greatly
alarmed us, for we did not see any prospect of speedy earnings, and we
began to think of a total change in our way of living which would
materially reduce our expenses. My husband would have been inclined to
remove to the English Lake District, but remembered in time that it was
nearly as wet as the Highlands, and what he wanted as a compensation, if
we left Scotland, was a dry climate which would allow much more time for
out-of-door work.

It so happened that my father, who was now Directeur de l'Usine à Gaz at
Beaucaire, had suffered in health, catching frequent colds through
having to get out of bed to look after the puddlers, to stand before the
fires whilst they were replenished, and to cross a cold, draughty
courtyard in coming back. He had never complained, but my mother thought
it extremely dangerous, and wished that he had a more healthy

On the other hand, I had diligently applied myself to our small farm
and garden, with the help of a most valuable and simple guide,
"La Maison Rustique des Dames," by Madame Millet-Robinet, which
had been sent to me as a present by M. Bixio, and I had often thought
that if my efforts were not always thwarted by the inclemency of the
weather, I might count upon a fair return. All this led me to fancy that
if we were to buy a farm in France it might prove a profitable
investment, and I talked the project over with Gilbert. This is the
conclusion he arrived at. He would sell his property, rent a farm in
France, which I should manage with my father, himself remaining entirely
faithful to his artistic and literary studies. If my mother were strong
enough, and my sister willing, they would have a share in the direction,
and even my brothers, later on, if it were to their taste. There were
now many gentlemen-farmers who did not neglect either their work on the
land or their own culture--M. and Madame Millet-Robinet might be cited
as examples.

When the project was communicated to my father, he was very happy at the
idea of living near us, and grateful for the delicate thoughtfulness
which had devised this means of coming to his help under pretext of
asking help from him. Here is part of his answer:--

"MON CHER FUTUR ASSOCIÉ,--Ah ça! pensez-vous donc que j'aie tout à fait
la berlue pour n'avoir pas découvert de prime abord tout l'insidieux de
votre proposition? Il vous faudrait, dites-vous naïvement, pour associé,
un homme actif, exercé, connaissant bien les affaires, la culture, pour
exploiter votre ferme et, plus heureux que Diogène, vous braquez votre
lanterne sur un homme qui dans trois ans sera un quasi vieillard, dejà
valétudinaire aujourd'hui et sachant à peine distinguer le seigle du
froment! Oh! l'admirable cultivateur modèle que vous aurez là! Soyez
franc, mon cher Gendre, vous avez ruminé ce prétexte avec ma fille pour
m'assurer des invalides et donner à ma vieillesse un repos et un abri
que mon labeur n'a pas voulu conquérir au prix de mon honnêteté.
[Footnote: My father had been offered a very important post in the
government of Napoleon III., on condition of accepting his policy, after
the Coup d'État.] Je vous vois venir et j'ai beau être un âne en
agriculture, tout ce qui reussira me sera attribué; mon incapacité sera
couverte d'un manteau de profonde habileté et vous me persuaderez que,
livrés à vos propres lumières, vous ne feriez rien de bon, tandis qu'en
me confiant le soc, c'est à moi que le sillon devra sa richesse."

My mother and my brothers also wrote warmly and gratefully, whilst all
the details of the project were discussed at length in every successive
letter. My father inclined for the purchase of a farm, but Gilbert was
afraid of a possible confiscation of property in case of a war between
England and France.

Meanwhile, Aunt Susan had entered into a regular and friendly
correspondence with me and her nephew, and she wrote on June 27, 1861;--

"MY DEAR NIECE,--My sister and myself are quite annoyed to seem so
dilatory in fixing our time for visiting you; however, we hope (D. V.)
to be with you on Saturday, the sixth of July. I hope your little olive
branches are both quite well, and also your sister; we shall be glad to
renew and make fresh acquaintance amongst the young ones. I suppose
Philip Gilbert will ere this be returned from his long camping
expedition, and I hope he has had a most satisfactory outing. Will you
all accept our united love, and believe me

"Your affectionate aunt,


My husband was at home to receive his aunts, and pleased to notice how
amicably we got on together, but he was not prepared for what took place
shortly before their departure. One morning I was gathering strawberries
in the garden, and it was slow work because they were very small, being
the wild species, which had been transplanted for their delicious
flavor. Aunt Susan came up, and offered to help me. Never shall I forget
the scene when we both rose from the strawberry-beds, with our fragrant
little baskets well filled. We turned towards the lake, whose soft, hazy
glamour matched that of the tender sky; the air was still, and there
reigned a serene silence, as if a single sound might have desecrated the
almost religious peace of earth and heaven; yet a smothered sob was
heard as I felt myself caught in a close embrace, my head laid upon a
heaving bosom, my hair moist with warm tears, a broken voice murmuring:
"My child, how I have wronged you!... and I love you so--" "Oh! Aunt
Susan," I said, "don't cry; I will love you too; my husband will be so
happy." We kissed each other, and said no more, and from that time Aunt
Susan became my most faithful friend.

The farm project having been seriously considered by my father, he at
last declared it too hazardous for him to undertake the direction of it.
From the first he had felt unequal to it, for want of the proper
knowledge and preparation; and so much would depend upon its
success--the future of two families. But having had formerly a long
experience in the wine trade, and being a particularly reliable
authority on the qualities and values of Burgundy wines (he was able to
name the _cru_--that is, the place where the grapes were cultivated--of
any wine he tasted, as well as the _cuvée_, namely the year in which it
had been made); and having been in his youth the representative of an
important wine firm in Burgundy, he was more inclined to undertake the
management of a wine business than anything else. He said so to my
husband, adding that the relatives and acquaintances we had in England
might form the beginning of a good connection, and that his own name as
head of the firm would secure a good many customers both in France and
Belgium. His son-in-law was soon convinced of the wisdom of these
reasons, and it was decided that towards the end of the year we would go
to France to choose a new residence, suited to the requirements of the
wine business, and situated in a part sufficiently picturesque to lend
itself to artistic representation. It was stipulated that the name of
Hamerton should not be used; the title of the firm was to be "Gindriez
et Cie.," my husband being sleeping partner only.



Effects of the Highland climate.--Farewell to Loch Awe.--Journey to the
South of France.--Death of Miss Mary Hamerton.--Settlement at
Sens.--Death of M. Gindriez.--Publication of the "Painter's
Camp."--Removal to Pré-Charmoy.

Very few people can stand the climate of the Highlands without suffering
from it; it is so damp and so depressing in winter-time, when the wind
howls so piteously in the twisted branches of the Scotch firs, and when
the rain imprisons one for weeks within liquid walls of unrelieved
grayness. Mr. Hamerton, since he came to Innistrynich, had repeatedly
suffered from what he believed to be toothache, although his teeth were
all perfectly sound, and the pain being always attended by insomnia, was
a cause of weakness and fatigue detrimental to his general health. The
doctor said it was congestion of the gums, due to the excess of moisture
in the climate, which had not been favorable to either of us; for I had
also discovered that my hearing was becoming impaired, and these were
weighty additional reasons for removing elsewhere. I had been somewhat
anxious at times, when I saw him fall suddenly into a state of
listlessness and prostration, but as he always recovered his energy and
resumed his usual avocations after a short sleep, I thought it must be
the result of temporary exhaustion, for which nature kindly sent the
best remedy--restoring sleep; and as he had told me he had always
experienced the greatest difficulty in getting to sleep before midnight
or at regular hours, and especially in getting a sufficiency of sleep in
the course of the night, it seemed a natural compensation for the
system, that an occasional nap should now and then become
irrepressible,--the more so on account of his customary nocturnal rides,
sails, or walks. To the end of his life the hours of the night seemed to
him quite as fit for any sort of occupation as those of the day, and it
made little difference to him whether it was dark or light; indeed at
one time, years later, when at Pré-Charmoy, he began, to the
stupefaction of his country neighbors, to call upon them at nine or ten
in the summer evenings, and then to propose a row on the pond or a walk
by moonlight; but it happened not unfrequently that he could get no
admittance, rural habits having sent the inhabitants to their early
beds; or else if they were still found in a state of wakefulness, they
did not evince the slightest desire to be out with a _noctambule_, and
even hinted that it might look objectionable and vagabondish in case
they were seen. He was greatly astonished at this new point of view; for
it was merely to spare the working hours of the day that he took his
relaxation in the night.

A good many more pictures had been painted in the course of the year,
and had suggested many "Thoughts about Art," which had been duly
consigned to the manuscript of the "Painter's Camp." Aunt Mary, who was
kept _au courant_, wrote: "How can you, dear Philip Gilbert, find time
to paint so much, and to write so much?" It was now necessary to be more
industrious than ever, in order to have a sufficient number of works to
cover the walls of the exhibition room, the project being near its
realization and matured in all its details. My husband was to take me,
our children, and Caroline to my parents at Beaucaire, and leave us
there while he went in search of a house, then back again to the
Highlands for the removal, and before joining me again he was to
organize the exhibition in London with the help of Thursday, and leave
him in charge of it.

About the middle of October, 1861, we started for our long journey
southwards, with mingled feelings of deep regret for what we left
behind,--the country we still loved so much, the associations with the
births of our children and the laborious and hopeful beginnings of an
artistic and literary career, as well as the tender memories of the
growth of our union, which solitude had tested and strengthened and made
so perfect and complete; then if we looked forward, it was with joyful
feelings for the lasting reunion of the family, for the peace and
happiness we were going to give to my father's old age, and also for
future success and easier circumstances.

We stopped at Todmorden to say farewell to our relations, and also paid
farewell visits to some friends, amongst them Mrs. Butler and her
husband--Mr. Hamerton's Burnley schoolmaster; to Mr. Handsley, for whom
he had as much esteem as affection, and to his half-cousins Abram and
Henry Milne, who had agreed to purchase his property, and had given him
a commission for the two pictures already spoken of at Loch Awe, and
destined for the billiard-room, which had been built in the meantime,
and was now used daily.

On arriving at Beaucaire, we found my mother in much better health than
formerly, but my father looked aged, we thought; however, he was much
cheered by our prospects, and entered heartily into every detail
concerning them.

My husband had not much time to spare, and he made the most of it;
together we saw Arles, Nîmes, the Pont du Gard, and Montmajour, and
called upon Roumieu, the Provençal poet, to whom we were introduced by
friends. We used to roam along the shores of the Rhône in the twilight,
the noble river affording us a perpetual source of admiration, and one
evening, when we were bending over one of its bridges looking at the
swollen and tumultuous waves after a storm, we became spellbound by the
tones of a superb voice, coming as it seemed from the sky, and singing
with happy ease and unconcern, one after the other, some of the most
difficult parts in the opera of "William Tell." We dared not speak for
fear of losing a few notes, for the rich, full voice hardly paused
between two songs, never betraying the slightest effort or fatigue;
half-an-hour later it ceased altogether, and we went to my father's full
of our discovery.

"Oh! it's Villaret of the brewery; yes, a splendid tenor, but he has
long been discovered; only he has no musical education, and his
relatives won't hear of his going on the stage. Alexandre Dumas, after
listening to him, offered to pay all necessary expenses to enable him to
attend the Conservatoire, but it was of no use: they are very religious
in the family, and have an insurmountable horror of theatres. He is,
himself, a very simple, good-natured fellow, and does not require much
pressing to sing whenever he is asked. I know some of his friends, and
the lady organist of the church particularly; and if you wish to hear
him at her house, I dare say she would give a _soirée_ to that end."

Two days later we were invited by the lady to meet him, and with evident
pleasure, but without vanity, he sang several pieces, with very great
power and feeling. At last, when the company were leaving, the lady of
the house took Gilbert aside to beg him to remain a little longer with
Villaret, and when everybody else had left, she said: "Now, Monsieur
Villaret, I count upon the pleasure of listening to my favorite piece in
'La Muette de Portici.' I am going to play the accompaniment." "I would
if I could, to oblige you," he answered; "but you are aware of my
weakness. I never can do justice to it, because I can't master my
emotion." "Never mind; you must fancy we are alone together. Mr.
Hamerton and his wife will remain at the other end of the salon, behind
your back; and what then if you break down?... no one will be any the
worse for it." She sat down and began the accompaniment of that most
exquisitely tender song,--

  "De ton coeur bannis les alarmes,
  Qu'un songe heureux sèche les larmes
  Qui coulent encore de tes yeux."

The words were hardly audible; but we were so moved by the marvellous
purity of the pathetic voice that tears stood in our eyes. As for the
singer, tears rolled down his face. It was one of those rare and perfect
pleasures that are never forgotten. A few years later Villaret made his
_début_ as first tenor at the Opéra in Paris with great success. He was
very generous with tickets to his early friends and fellow-citizens;
some of his most intolerant relatives had died, and he had yielded at
last to the general wish.

Now came for my husband and myself the longest separation in our married
life. It lasted two months, and seemed at least two years, so sad and
wearied did we grow. He wrote every night succinctly what had been done
in the course of the day, and sent me his letters three times a week.

When beds had been packed up or sold, our kind neighbors, Mr. and Mrs.
Whitney, offered him hospitality, which he gratefully accepted, till
everything was cleared out of Innistrynich and on its way to Sens, in
the department of the Yonne, where our new residence was to be.

On his way to Sens, Gilbert stayed a few days with his aunts, but left
them for a short time, and concluded the sale of his property to Henry
Milne. It was but a poor bargain, the times being bad for the cotton
district on account of the American war; but he had no alternative,
having engaged to find capital for the wine business, and even needing
money for daily expenses, for as yet he earned nothing.

What he had been in dread of for so many years, on account of his Aunt
Mary's state of health, happened just as he was returning to "The
Jumps," and when he saw his uncle Thomas awaiting him at the station he
had a foreboding of the truth. "Aunt Mary is dead?" ... "Not dead yet,
but unconscious, and there is no hope. This morning when Susan was in
the breakfast-room, waiting for her sister, she heard a stamping
overhead, followed by a dull, heavy thud, and on rushing upstairs found
Mary stretched on the floor and moaning, but unconscious. She has been
put to bed and attended by doctors; but there is nothing to be done, and
they say that she does not suffer." Mournfully my husband ascended
alone, in the dark night, the steep hill up which he had so often walked
gayly to see his beloved guardian; tenderly he watched at her bedside
for forty-eight hours, till she breathed no more, and at last reverently
accompanied her remains to the chosen place, which he never omitted to
visit afterwards, every time he came to Todmorden. He wrote to say what
a satisfaction it was to think that his aunt had seen him only a few
hours before the attack, and when it came she must have felt him so near
to her.

I remember an incident which took place on the day we took leave of Aunt
Mary to go to Innistrynich; she had invited two of her nieces to lunch
with us at "The Jumps." When we left the house, some time in the
afternoon, I went first with my cousins, leaving nephew and aunt
together for more intimate communing, and when my husband reached us,
his eyes were still moist and his voice tremulous. The girls
thoughtlessly teased him about it, and twitted him with his weakness;
but he did not allow them to amuse themselves long, he cowed them with a
violence of contempt which terrified me, whilst I could not help
admiring it. "Yes," he said, "I have shed tears--not unmanly tears--and
if you are not capable of entering into the feelings of grateful love
and regret which wring these tears out of my heart, I despise you for
your heartlessness." His voice had recovered its firmness and rang loud,
his eyes shot flames, he looked more than human. These startling
outbursts of generous or honest passion were one of his most marked
characteristics; they occurred but rarely, but when they did occur
nothing could abate their terrific violence; a single word in mitigation
would have acted like oil on the flames. It must be explained that they
were always justified by the cause, and it was impossible not to admire
such genuine and high-minded resentment against meanness or dishonesty,
or in some cases against what he considered insulting to his sense of
honor. For instance, on one occasion a very important sale of works of
art was to take place abroad, and he was asked to contribute some notes
to the catalogue. It was hinted--clearly enough--that any words of
praise would be handsomely acknowledged. He resented the offer like a
blow on the face, blushed crimson with ardent indignation, and almost
staggered to the writing-table; there he seized a postcard, and in
large, clear, print-like letters threw back the insult with cutting
contempt. The sense of having cleared his honor somewhat relieved him,
and after waiting for a propitious moment I tried to persuade him,
before the card was posted, that the offence was not so heinous as it
looked, the writer not knowing him personally, and merely imagining
himself to be acting in conformity with a prevalent custom, which some
critics were far from resenting. All I could obtain, however, was an
envelope for the terrible postcard.

Now to resume the narrative. I left Beaucaire to join my husband at
Havre on his return, and after visiting the town together we hastened to
our new house at Sens, which I longed to see, for it had been chosen in
my absence, and though I had received minute descriptions of it, I was
not able to realize its appearance or surroundings. It was one of the
large, roomy _maisons bourgeoises_, so numerous in French provincial
towns at that time, built for the convenience of the owner, and not in
order to be let as an investment. It was perfectly suitable for the
double purpose Gilbert had in view--with a spacious carriage entrance,
courtyard, cellars, barns, and stable for the wine trade, and large,
commodious, well-lighted rooms for residence. But to my regret there was
no garden,--a great privation for me; however, my husband told me that
our landlord had promised to make one if I cared so much for it. I did
care very much, as the only view from the house was that of other houses
and walls on the other side of the street; but when asked to fulfil his
promise, the landlord said it was a misunderstanding, he had merely
given leave for _us_ to make a garden in the courtyard if we liked, or
else he would let us have one for a moderate rent, outside of the town,
a common habit at Sens. However, as I did not appreciate the pleasure of
an hour's walk every time I wished to smell a flower in my garden, we
declined the offer, and my husband kindly planned a narrow flower-bed
all along the base of the walls in the courtyard, which looked gay
enough when the plants were in full bloom, and the walls were hidden by
convolvulus, nasturtiums, and Virginia creepers.

Even before the house was furnished and in order, Gilbert was eager to
begin his commission pictures; but he soon found that even our large
rooms were too small for a studio, and the light was not good for
painting; but at the same time, I believe he was not _really_ sorry,
because it gave him a plausible excuse for turning one of the barns into
a capital studio.

This outbuilding offered great and tempting advantages; it was isolated
from the house, therefore silent and private; it might be lighted from
the north, and was sufficiently spacious to allow a part to be divided
off for a laboratory. Being greatly interested in architecture and
building, my husband derived great pleasure from the execution of his
own plans, even in such a small matter. I vainly attempted to reconcile
him to the idea of using one of the large rooms, standing in fear of the
expense; but I could not help admitting that with his propensity for
large canvases, which I deprecated all my life, a studio was
indispensable; and, after all, as it seemed almost certain that we
should stay there a great many years, it was not of much importance,
especially after having lived in terror of seeing him undertake the
building of a tower, or the restoration of an old castle like
Kilchurn,--a dream that he often indulged, as numerous designs bore

The first thing considered by Gilbert when he settled at Sens was the
choice of subjects for his commission pictures, which he intended to
paint directly from nature; and he soon selected panoramic landscape
views from the top of a small vine-clad hill, called St. Bon, which
commands an extensive prospect of the river Yonne, and of the plains
about it. On the summit of this eminence there is a kiosk belonging to
the archbishop, who readily granted the use of it to the artist for
sheltering his pictures, brushes, colors, etc. But the artist was not
one who could bear confinement, and the kiosk was but a tiny affair, and
not movable, so two of the tents were set up at its foot, and formed a
painter's camp, which attracted so many curious visitors that it was
thought unsafe to leave it at their mercy; and when Gilbert went back
home for the night a watchman, well armed with pistols and a gun, took
his place. Every day, when the great summer heat had abated, I used to
set off with the children to go and meet my husband at the foot of the
hill, and we returned together to the house, attempting on the way to
make the boys speak English, but without success, for the eldest, who
spoke _nothing_ but English when I had left him two months before at
Beaucaire, now chose to gabble in Provençal, which he had picked up from
his nurse, regardless of his Aunt Caroline's efforts to make him talk in
his native tongue. Subsequently, when he perceived that no one
understood him, he quickly dropped his Provençal and replaced it by
French, but would not trouble himself to speak two different languages

By the care and thoughtfulness of Gilbert, a pretty little house and
garden had been prepared for his father-in-law and family, at a short
distance from our own dwelling, where the office of the business was now
ready on the ground-floor, completely fitted up, and separated from the
private dwelling.

My mother had come first with my brothers and sister, whilst my father
remained a little longer to put his successor _au courant_. But it
seemed to me that the delay was longer than we had foreseen, and I began
to grow anxious on account of my letters remaining unanswered; then I
was told that my father was very busy, not very well, and that he could
not write. About a month later he wrote that he was now well enough to
undertake the journey, and with great rejoicings we prepared to receive
him; but when I noticed how altered he was, how thin, how weak, all my
joy forsook me, and it was almost beyond my power not to let him read it
in my face. Courageous as ever, he tried to be and to _look_ happy, and
talked of setting to work immediately. I learned now that he had been
dangerously ill, but that his malady had been kept secret to spare me.

A few trying months followed, during which we passed alternately from
hope to fear, the most distressing feature of this sorrowful time being
my poor father's desperate struggle for life. "I must and I will live to
work; it is my duty to get well; I have a heavy debt and responsibility
now that you are involved in this business," he used to say to his
son-in-law. He had the greatest confidence in his friend, Alphonse
Guérin, the celebrated discoverer of the antiseptic method of dressing
wounds, and thought that if any one could cure him it was A. Guérin, who
had prescribed for him throughout his life in Paris. Accordingly to
Paris he went, and died there shortly after, notwithstanding the devoted
care of his doctor.

Everything seemed to turn against my husband's wisest plans, but nothing
daunted by this last fearful blow, he at once offered his mother-in-law
a pension sufficient to enable her children to carry on their education;
this pension would gradually be diminished as the children became able
to earn money for themselves and to take their share in the maintenance
of their mother. The fact was, that from that time he had two families
to keep.

Besides the studies at St. Bon, he had begun two pictures of large
dimensions in his studio, and worked at them steadily. As he could not
sit down, this excess of fatigue brought on a very serious illness,
which kept him in bed for nearly a fortnight, and it was the only
instance of his submission to such an order from a physician during the
whole course of our married life, but it was rendered imperative by the
nature of the disorder. He hated remaining in bed when awake, at all
times, and he could not stand it at all in the hours of day; later on he
had the measles, and still later he suffered from gout, but he would not
stay in bed in either case, and during the first attack of gout, which
was as severe as unexpected, he remained for twenty-one nights without
going to bed.

This illness prevented him from attending the marriage of his eldest
cousin Anne Hamerton, about which her sister wrote on July 22, 1862,
that it was to take place on August 6, and after giving a good many
details she observed: "You may be above such vanities, but I think
Eugénie may be a little interested; poor Eugénie, how anxious she must
have been, having you in your room so long! How are your pictures
progressing? It must decidedly be a punishment to you to be limited to
time at your easel, particularly now, when you must feel so wishful to
get on with your commissions."

After his recovery, my husband arranged his work in a manner which
divided the hours into sitting ones and standing ones, to avoid a return
of the late inflammatory symptoms; and there never was a recurrence of

The pictures were in a fairly advanced stage when Mr. William Wyld came
on a visit of a few days and gave him valuable advice about them. His
Aunt Susan said in a subsequent letter: "I am very glad Mr. Wyld has
been to see your pictures, and though you may be a little dissatisfied
that your present works will be 'dirt cheap,' still the cheering opinion
of them will give you great courage, I hope. I shall certainly go to see
them as soon as they get to Agnew's."

So much for the art department. For the literary one the "Painter's
Camp" had been accepted by Mr. Macmillan, and we were in a fever of
excitement awaiting its publication. As to the wine business, after
remaining irresolute for some time, Gilbert had accepted the proposition
of a friend to assume what should have been my father's part,--with this
alteration, however, that he would pay interest on the funds confided to
him, and share the clear profits with the sleeping partner.

This episode in my husband's life was so bitter, and involved him in
such difficulties, that I will cut it short. Suffice it to say, that
though the partnership was continued for a few years, during which the
interest of the money came but irregularly, the capital was entirely and
irremediably lost in the end.

When autumn came, the commission pictures were sent to Manchester for
exhibition, and shortly after Mr. Milne declined to accept them, on the
plea that he did not care for the subjects: the real reason being that
his sensitive heart had been again impressed--this time by a young
governess, of whom he had bought two copies after Greuze, which were now
occupying the place formerly destined for his cousin's works. However,
another friend soon became their purchaser, but for the artist the
disappointment remained.

Sadness for the loss of his aunt, Mrs. Thomas Hamerton, which happened
just at that time, and sympathy with his uncle in these trying moments,
spoilt the pleasure Gilbert had anticipated from the visit to his
relations which we made that year. We were to go back to France with
return tickets; and the time allowed being nearly over, we went to take
leave of our friends at West Lodge, when we learned that Mrs. T.
Hamerton, who had lately been suffering from an attack of gout, had
succumbed to its weakening effects. Regardless of the pecuniary loss, my
husband immediately expressed his determination to stay as long as he
could be of any help to his uncle. We therefore sacrificed our tickets,
and went back to "The Jumps," whence he came down every day to spare his
uncle all the painful formalities of a funeral. We only left when the
run of ordinary habits had been re-established at West Lodge, but even
then we felt that a new misfortune was lurking in the silent house, for
the health of Jane Hamerton, who had never been very strong, now began
to disquiet her friends, particularly my husband, whose affection for
her was very true and tender. Aunt Susan, who was her devoted but
clear-sighted nurse, wrote to us in the course of the summer that her
case was very serious, notwithstanding the short periods of improvement
occurring at intervals. The poor girl had grown very weak and lost her
appetite; almost constantly feverish, she longed for fruit to refresh
her parched mouth and quench her thirst. As soon as he became aware of
this longing, Gilbert began to plan how he might gratify it, and it
appeared easy enough, as we were in a land of plenty; but the time
required for the transport of such delicacies as grapes and peaches
threatened ominously their safe arrival. However, we would run the risk
to give a little relief to our dear invalid, and we would take the
greatest precautions in the packing. So we went to a fruit-grower,
taking with us a large box filled with dry bran and divided into
compartments: one was filled with melons, another with grapes, the last
with peaches, every one taken from the tree, vine, or plant with our own
hands, then wrapped in tissue-paper and protected all round with bran.
The result will be seen in the following letter from Jane:--

"MY DEAR EUGENIE AND P. G.--A thousand thanks for the enormous box of
fruit, which arrived here to-day about noon: it is quite a honey-fall to
the inhabitants of West Lodge, more especially to me. I am very happy to
tell you that the grapes have arrived in perfect condition, and that the
melons seem to have suffered only outwardly, as the one cut into is
quite luscious and good. The sausage (_saucisson de Lyon_) also appears
to have borne the journey well, but has not yet been tasted, so the next
letter from Todmorden must give the opinion upon it, but it certainly
looks to me a most comical affair; and to tell last the only
disagreeable thing, it is about the peaches, which were all in a
dreadful mess, and quite mixed up with the bran and scarcely fit to
touch, though Aunt Susan did take out one or two to see the extent of
the decay. How very provoking for you both when you heard of the
detention at Havre, particularly when P. G. had taken such precautions
with regard to the outside directions."

If I have given such apparently trivial details at length, it was to
show how generous of his time and thought was my husband in everything
concerning affection or pity; his sympathy was always ready and active,
and he never begrudged his exertions to give relief or comfort to those
in need of either.

It had been most fortunate for the young author of the "Painter's Camp
in the Highlands" that the MS. of the book happened to come under the
eyes of Mr. Macmillan himself, who, being in want of rest, and attracted
by the title, had taken it with him in the country and had read it with
great delight. Being a Scotchman, he was in immediate sympathy with so
fervent an admirer of the Highlands as my husband, and had at once
agreed to publish the book.

From the first it was a success: the freshness of the narrative, the
novelty of the subject, the truthfulness and charm of the descriptions
were duly appreciated, together with the earnest (if still immature)
expressions of the "Thoughts about Art." The book soon found its way to
America, where it attracted the notice of Roberts Brothers' publishing
house. They were charmed with it, and published an edition in America.
The "Painter's Camp" was well received by the Press of both nations, and
the reviews were numerous. It was compared to "Robinson Crusoe" and
called "unique." The author was very much amused to hear that "Punch"
had given an illustrated notice of it under the title of "A Painter
Scamp in the Highlands."

This success--almost unexpected--led my husband to accept proposals for
other literary productions, the most important at that time being
contributed to the "Fine Arts Quarterly Review," and beginning with an
elaborate criticism of the Salon of 1863. He also began to write for the
"Cornhill" and "Macmillan's Magazine," much against his wish, merely
because painting was a source of expense without a return.

Although, my husband had himself chosen Sens for his residence, his
choice had been dictated by necessity, to a great extent, rather than by
preference. It was a combination of conveniences for different purposes,
but the kind of scenery was so far from giving entire satisfaction to
his artistic tastes that he began to suffer seriously from mountain
nostalgia. He admired the river, and had upon it a lovely rowing-boat,
bought of the best boat-builder at Asnières, and he used it often, but
without finding river landscape a compensation for mountain scenery. In
fear of a serious illness, we thought it better to gratify the longing,
and devised a plan for a journey to Switzerland which would greatly
reduce the expense without spoiling the pleasure. It was this: The new
line of railway from Neufchâtel to Pontarlier had just been opened, and
passed through the most beautiful scenery. Gilbert offered the company
an article in an English paper in return for two travelling tickets, for
himself and his wife, and the offer was accepted.

It was a charming holiday. We stayed a few days at Neufchâtel with
friends, and visited at our leisure Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Bâle, and
Berne, and after feasting his eyes on Mont Pilatus, the Jungfrau, and
Mont Blanc, my husband came back cured. He had sometimes spoken of the
possibility of a removal to Geneva (before we had been there), on
account of the lake and Mont Blanc; but I objected that we did not know
the place. To this objection he had a very characteristic answer: "_You_
don't know the place, but I know it as well as if I had dwelt there,
after reading so many descriptions of it, and being aware of its
geographical situation." When I remarked that it was quite different
from what I had anticipated, he said: "It is exactly what I had
imagined." He often used to tell us that he had no need of going to
Rome, or Vienna, or to any other celebrated town, to know its general
aspect, for he had studied their monuments in detail, the prevailing
character of their architecture, that of the inhabitants with their
costumes and manners, and he was even acquainted with the names and
directions of the principal streets.

At the end of the year, our sweet cousin Jane died with great
resignation, thankful to be delivered from her long, wearying,
consumptive pains. Aunt Susan had volunteered to be her bed-fellow from
the month of June, in order to move her gently, and to support the poor
wasted frame upon her own, to relieve the bed-sores by a change of
posture; her devotion had been indefatigable and unrelieved, for her
invalid niece would accept attendance from no one else.

This loss was keenly felt by my husband, whose little playfellow she had
been; the threatening symptoms of the disease had prevented her coming
to us, together with her father and aunt, as it was proposed they should
do in the summer, and now grief did not allow her bereaved relatives to
entertain the idea of a change.

It is likely enough that the series of sorrows and disappointments we
had experienced since we came to Sens prevented our growing attached to
the place; it may be also that our roomy but thoroughly commonplace
house, being one of a row in a street devoid of interest, never answered
in the least to our need of poetry or even of privacy, particularly with
our minds and hearts still full of dear Innistrynich; but certain it is
that we did not feel the slightest regret at the idea of leaving it
forever; nay, we even longed to be away from it. This feeling was common
to both of us, yet we both refrained from mentioning it to each other
for some time, thinking it unreasonable, till we came to discuss it
together, and to agree that it would not be unreasonable to exchange a
house too large for our wants for a smaller one at a lower rent, and a
town life that neither of us enjoyed for a simpler mode of living in
some picturesque country-place more suitable for my husband's artistic

It must be explained that our partner had decided to take a house in the
very heart of Burgundy to carry on the business, on the plea that the
name of the renowned vineyards surrounding it, being on the address,
were likely to inspire confidence in the customers. He added that the
situation would also be more favorable for his purchases, sales, and
business journeys, and of course, being the only working partner, he
acted as he liked. Then what was the use now of those empty cellars,
dreary paved courtyard, and formal office? We had no pleasant
associations there, having made no friends on account of our
mourning--why should we remain against our inclination?

We decided to remove as soon as we had discovered something for which we
might form a real liking, and the result of our experience has been
given at length by Mr. Hamerton in "Round my House," to which I refer
the reader for details which could not find place in the following brief
account of our search.

It was begun on the shores of the Rhône, whose noble landscape my
husband so much admired. But although the scenery was very tempting to
an artist, _that_ was not the only condition to be considered, and we
were soon discouraged by the prevailing dirtiness and slovenliness of
the people, and by what we heard of the disastrous inundations. We were
also afraid of our children catching the horrid accent of the country.
So we thought of the Saône district, Gilbert being unable to bear the
idea of being at a remote distance from an expanse of water of some

Here again the landscape was appreciated, though for charms different
from those of the Rhône. Unluckily we could not find a suitable house in
a good situation, and we also learned that intermittent fevers were very
prevalent, on account of the periodical overflows of the Saône.

We tried after that the vine-land of Burgundy, where Gilbert told me
what he has repeated in "Round my House": "There is no water, with its
pleasant life and changefulness, here." I also agreed with him in
thinking the renowned vineyards of the Côte d'Or most monotonous, except
during a very short time indeed, when they are clothed in the splendor
of gold and purple, just before a cruel night of frost strips them bare,
and only leaves the blackened _paisceaux_ visible, for more than six
months at a time. Then we turned to the beautiful valley of the Doubs,
and discovered the very dwelling of our dreams, in which were found all
the conditions that we thought desirable. However, we were doomed to a
new disappointment, for the owner, when we offered to take it, changed
her mind and coolly declined to let.

Fortunately, some time later, a friend directed us to quite another
region, that of the Autunois, to see a very similar house, offering
about the same advantages. There were a few points of difference; for
instance, the little river encircling the garden was only a
trout-stream, instead of the broad and placid Doubs; the building was
also of more modest appearance. As compensations, however, there were
picturesque and extensive views from every window; the situation was
more private, and the solitude of the small wild park with its beautiful
trees at once enchanted Gilbert. So we decided to take Pré-Charmoy.



Canoeing on the Ternin.--Visit of relatives.--Tour in Switzerland.--
Experiments in etching.--The "Saturday Review."--Journeys to
London.--Plan of "Etching and Etchers."--New friends in London.
--Etchings exhibited at the Royal Academy.--Serious illness in
London.--George Eliot.--Professor Seeley.

NOT to waste his time in the work of removal and fitting up, Mr.
Hamerton remained behind at Sens, to finish the copying of a window by
Jean Cousin in the cathedral and some other drawings, begun to
illustrate an article on this artist. We had all gone forward to
Pré-Charmoy, and when he arrived there, everything being already in
order, he continued his work without interruption. He was delighted with
the unpretentious little house, and with its views from every window;
with the silent, shady, wild garden, and its group of tall poplars by
the clear, cool, winding river which divided it from the pastures on the
other side, and he often repeated to us with a smile, "Pré-Charmoy
charme moi." Although the house was small, there were a good many rooms
in it, and the master had for himself alone a studio (an ordinary-sized
room), a study, and a carpenter's shop--for he was fond of carpentry in
his leisure hours, and far from unskilful. He liked to make experimental
boats with his own hands, and moreover he found out that some kind of
physical exercise was necessary to him as a relief from brain-work, for
if the weather was bad and he took no exercise he began to feel liable
to a sort of uncomfortable giddiness. I wished him to consult a doctor
about it, but he believed that it would go away after a while, for it
had come on quite lately while painting on an open scaffolding inside
the cathedral at Sens, when he could see through the planks and all
round far below him, and this had produced, at times, a kind of vertigo.

The pretty little boat bought at Asnières was all very well for the
Arroux which flows by Autun, but for the narrow, shallow, winding Ternin
and the Vesure, some other kind of craft had to be devised, and paper
boats were built upon basket-work skeletons, and tried with more or less
success. My eldest brother Charles, who had finished his classical
studies and was now preparing to become an architect, used to come from
Mâcon for the holidays, sometimes bringing a friend with him, and
together with Gilbert they went exploring the "Unknown Rivers." They
generally came home dripping wet, having abandoned their canoes in the
entanglement of roots and weeds after a sudden upset, and having to go
and fetch them back with a cart, unless the shipwreck was caused by an
unsuspected branch under water, or by the swift rush of a current
catching the frail concern and carrying it away altogether, whilst the
venturesome navigator was gathering his wits on the pebbles of the

Towards the end of August, Mr. Thomas Hamerton and his sister Susan came
to visit us. They liked the Autunois--at least what they saw of it--
exceedingly, but they suffered much from the heat, particularly our
uncle, who had remained true to his youthful style of dress: high shirt-
collar sawing the ears and stiffened by a white, starched choker, rolled
several times about the neck; black cloth trousers, long black
waistcoat, and ample riding-coat of the same color and material. He was
also careful never to put aside either flannel undergarments or woollen
socks. Our kind uncle was a pattern of propriety in everything, but the
fierce heat of a French August on a plain surrounded by a circle of
hills was too much even for Mr. T. Hamerton's propriety, and he had to
beg leave to remove his coat and to sit in his shirt-sleeves. There was
a stone table under a group of fine horse-chestnuts in the garden, not
far from the little river, to which we used to resort after dinner with
our work and books in search of coolness, and there even my husband did
his writing. One afternoon, when we were sitting as usual in this shady
arbor, all silent, uncle dozing behind the newspaper, and his nephew
intent on literary composition, what was our astonishment at the sight
of sedate Aunt Susan suddenly jumping upon the table and remaining like
a marble statue upon its stone pedestal, and quite as white. We all
looked up, and uncle pushed his spectacles high on his forehead to have
a better sight of so strange an attitude for his sister to take. At last
Aunt Susan pointed to something gliding away in the grass, and gasped:
"A serpent! oh, dear, oh, dear, a serpent!" Vainly did my husband try to
calm her fright by explaining that it was only an adder going to seek
the moisture of the river-bank and never intending to attack any one,
that they were plentiful and frequently to be met with, when their first
care was to pass unnoticed; our poor aunt would not be persuaded to
descend from her pedestal for some time, and not before she was provided
with a long and stout stick to beat the grass about her as she went back
to the house.

Mr. T. Hamerton's intention, as well as his sister's, was to go to
Chamouni and the Mer de Glace, and to ask their nephew to act as guide.
He was glad enough to avail himself of the opportunity for studying
mountain scenery, but felt somewhat disappointed that I declined being
one of the party, from economical motives.

The letters I received during their tour bore witness to a fervent
appreciation of the landscape, of which a memento was desired, and
Gilbert undertook to paint for his relatives a small picture of Mont
Blanc after reaching home; meanwhile, he took several sketches to help
him. As he was relating to me afterwards the incidents of the journey,
he remembered a rather amusing one. At Bourg, where they had stopped to
see the church of Brou, he came down to the dining-room of the hotel and
found his uncle and aunt seated at their frugal English breakfast of tea
and eggs, which he did not share because tea did not agree with him, but
took up a newspaper and waited for the _table d'hote_.

"My word!" exclaimed his uncle, when _déjeuner_ was over, "but you do
not stint yourself. I counted the dishes: omelette, beef-steak and
potatoes, cray-fish and trout, roasted pigeons and salad, cheese,
grapes, and biscuits, without mentioning a full bottle of wine. Excuse
my curiosity, but I should like to know how much you will have to pay
for such a repast?"

"Exactly two francs and fifty centimes," answered his nephew; "and I
dare say your tea, toast, butter, and eggs will come to pretty near the
same amount, for here tea is an out-of-the-way luxury, and also you had
a separate table to yourselves, whilst the _table d'hôte_ is a
democratic institution."

"Then let us be democrats as long as we remain in France, if the thing
does not imply being deprived of tea."

From London, on her way back, Aunt Susan wrote:--

"We went to the Bedford Hotel, Covent Garden, and bespoke beds, got
something to eat, and then set out. Our first visit was to 196
Piccadilly, where Thursday was glad to see us, and where we stayed a
long time, well pleased to look at your pictures. I like them all
exceedingly, and could not decide on a choice; they each had in them
something I liked particularly. When we had been gone away some time, we
remembered we had not paid our admission, so we went back; this afforded
us another looking at the pictures and also a pleasing return of a small
etching; our choice was 'Le four et la terrasse de Pré-Charmoy!' We were
well contented with what we got, but I did think the proofs beautiful."

Mr. Hamerton's strong love of etching had now led him to the practice of
it, and for several hours every day he struggled against its technical
difficulties. Full of hope and trust in a final success, he turned from
a spoilt plate to a fresh one without discouragement, always eager and
relentless. His main fault, as I thought, was attempting too much finish
and effect, and I used to tell him so. He acknowledged that I was right,
and when taking up a new plate he used to say playfully: "Now _this_ is
going to be a good etching; you don't believe it because you are a
little sceptic, but you'll see--I mean not to carry it far." Then before
biting he showed it me with "Look at it before it is spoilt." It was
rarely spoilt in the biting, but by subsequent work. Many charming
proofs I greatly admired. "Oh! this is only a sketch; you will see the
improvement when I have darkened this mass." Then I begged hard that it
should be left as it was, and I was met by arguments that I could not
discuss,--"the effect was not true so," "the lights were too strong," or
"the darks too heavy;" "but _very little_ retouching was necessary," and
it ended in the pretty sketch being destroyed after having been
re-varnished and re-bitten two or three times. When it was no longer
shown to me, I was aware of its fate. The amount of labor bestowed upon
etching by my husband was stupendous, as he had to seek his way without
help or advice. A plate once begun, he could not bring himself to leave
it--not even in the night, and at that time he always had one in hand.
Heedless of his self-imposed rules about the division of hours for
literary work and artistic work, he devoted himself almost entirely to
the pursuit of etching. This made me very uneasy, for it had become
imperative that he should make his work pay. The tenant of the coal-mine
had reiterated his decision not to pay rent any longer, and when
threatened with a law-suit answered that he would put it in Chancery. I
had been told that a suit in Chancery might last over twenty years, and
we had no means to carry it on. We were therefore obliged to abandon all
idea of redress, and were left _entirely_ dependent upon the earnings of
my husband, which were derived from his contributions to the "Fine Arts
Quarterly Review," and to a few periodicals of less importance. From
that period of overwork and anxiety dates the nervousness from which he
suffered so much throughout his life; though at that time he believed it
to be only temporary. He sought relief in outdoor exercise, especially
in canoeing, and this suggested the "Unknown River," published later,
but based on the excursions undertaken at that time, and on sketches and
etchings done on the way.

The picture painted in remembrance of the journey in Switzerland had
been finished and dispatched, and this is what Aunt Susan wrote about

"We are now in possession of our picture, which we received from Agnew
yesterday morning, and we are very much pleased with it; my impression
is that it is a very good, well-finished painting: we have not yet
concluded where to hang it for a proper and good light. We are very glad
to hear that _Mamzelle_ Mary Susan Marguerite (as Uncle Thomas called
her) is thriving and good; be sure and give her a kiss for each of us."

_Mamzelle_ Mary Susan Marguerite had been born early in the spring, and
to the general wonder of the household, seemed to have reconciled her
father to the inevitable cries and noises of babyhood. Brought up by two
maiden aunts in a large, solitary house in the country, and addicted
from early youth to study, my husband had a perfect horror of noises of
all kinds, and could not understand that they were unavoidable in some
circumstances; he used to call out from the top of the stairs to the
servants below "to stop their noise," or "to hold their tongues,"
whenever he overheard them singing to the babies or laughing to amuse
them, and if the children's crying became audible in the upper regions,
he declared that the house was not fit to live in, still less to work
in. One morning when the youngest boy was loudly expressing his distaste
for the ceremonies of the toilet, his father--no less loudly--was giving
vent to his irritation at the disturbance, and calling out to shut _all_
the doors; but he could not help being very much amused by the resolute
interference of the eldest brother--three years old--who, crossing his
little fat arms, and standing his ground firmly, delivered this oracle:
"Papa, babies _must_ cry." I suppose he had heard this wise sentence
from the nurse, but he gave it as solemnly as if it were the result of
his own reflections. Whether a few years' experience had rendered his
father more patient generally, or whether he had become alive to the
charm of babyhood--to which he had hitherto remained insensible--it was
a fact first noticed by the nurse that "Monsieur, quand la petite
criait, voulait savoir ce qu'elle avait, et la prenait même dans ses
bras pour la consoler."

A very important event now occurred: Mr. Hamerton was appointed art
critic to the "Saturday Review," where he succeeded Mr. Palgrave at his
recommendation. He did not accept the post with much pleasure, but it
afforded him the opportunity of studying works of art free of expense,
and that was a weighty consideration, besides being an opening to
intellectual and artistic intercourse of which he was greatly deprived
at Pré-Charmoy.

The visits to the London exhibitions necessitated two or three journeys
every year, and we both suffered from the separations; but I could bear
them better in my own home--surrounded by my children, visited by my
mother, sister, and brothers--than my husband, who was alone amongst
strangers, and who had to live in hotels, a thing he had a great dislike
for. In order to make these separations as short as possible, he
travelled at night by the most rapid trains; saw the exhibitions in the
day, and went to his rooms to write his articles by gas-light. For some
time he only felt fatigued; afterwards he became nervous; but he found
compensation in the society of his newly made friends, and in the
increasing marks of recognition he was now meeting everywhere.

He soon gave up hotel life, and took lodgings in St. John's Wood, where
he had many acquaintances, and from there he wrote to me:--

"I have seen Palgrave, Macmillan, Rossetti, Woolner, and Mr. Pearce
to-day. Palgrave says the 'Saturday Review' 'is most proud to have me.'
Woolner says it is not possible to succeed as an art critic more than I
have done; that Tennyson has been very much interested in my articles,
and has in consequence urged his publishers to employ Doré to illustrate
the "Idylls of the King." They have offered the job to Doré, who has

"The best news is to come.

"The 'Painter's Camp' is a success after all. It has fully cleared its
expenses, and Macmillan is willing to venture on a second edition,
revised, and I think he will let me illustrate it; he only hesitates.

"_Macmillan has positively given me a commission for a work on Etching_.

"I am to be paid whether it succeeds or not. I cannot tell you the exact
sum, but you shall know it soon.

"It is to be made up of articles in different reviews. It is to be a
guinea work of 400 pages, beautifully got up, with 50 illustrative
etchings by different masters, and is to be called 'Etching and

"Macmillan said that as to my capacity as a writer there existed no
doubt on the subject. He fully expects this work on Etching to be a
success. It is to be out for Christmas next.

"Macmillan is most favorably disposed to undertake other works, on
condition that each shall have a special character like that. One on
'Painting in France' and another on 'Painting in England' looms in the
future. He prefers this plan to the Year-book I mentioned to you.

"The great news in this letter is that I have written a book which has
paid its expenses. Is not that jolly? The idea of a second edition quite
elates me. So you see, darling, things are rather cheering. I must say,
everybody receives me pleasantly. Woodward is going to give me a whole
day at Windsor. Beresford-Hope is out of town, but called to-day at
Cook's and said 'he was most anxious to see me.'"

My husband wrote to me sometimes in French and sometimes in English;
when my mother came to keep me company during his absence, he generally
wrote in French, to enable me to read aloud some passages of his letters
that she might find interesting. The following letter was written on his
first journey to London for the "Saturday Review ":--

"CHÈRE PETITE FEMME,--Me voici installé dans un fort joli appartement
tout près de chez Mr. Mackay, à une guinée par semaine; j'y suis
tout-à-fait bien.

"Samedi dernier je suis allé d'abord chez Mr. Stephen Pearce que j'ai
trouvé chez lui; c'est un homme parfaitement comme il faut; il m'a reçu
bien cordialement et il m'a invité à dîner demain. J'ai dîné chez Mrs.
Leslie hier et j'ai passé tout le tantôt d'aujourd'hui chez Lewes qui
habite une fort belle maison à cinq minutes d'ici. J'ai beaucoup causé
avec l'auteur de 'Romola;' c'est une femme de 45 ans, pas belle du tout,
mais très distinguée, elle m'a fort bien reçu. Lewes lui-même est laid,
mais très cordial. Voilà quelque chose comme sa physionomie. [Sketch of
Lewes]. Je vais te donner George Eliot sur l'autre page. Il est très
gentil avec elle. [Sketch of George Eliot.] Ce portrait n'est pas très
ressemblant, mais il donne une bonne idée de l'expression--elle en a
énormément et parle fort bien. Son salon est un modèle de gôut et
d'élégance, et toute sa maison est aussi bien tenue que celle de
Millais, par exemple. Nous avons causé de beaucoup de choses, entre
autres précisément de cette curieuse question de prière selon Comte.
Elle soutient que c'est raisonnable dans le sens d'expression de vif
désir, de concentration de l'esprit vers son but. Son argument était
bien fortement soutenu par sa manière énergique de raisonner, mais je
lui ai tenu tête avec beaucoup d'obstination, et nous avons eu une
véritable lutte. Elle a une singulière puissance, quelque chose qui ne
se trouve jamais que chez les personnes d'un génie extraordinaire. Quand
elle a voulu me convaincre, elle y mettait tant de persuasion et de
volonté qu'il me fallait un certain effort pour garder la clarté de mes
propres idées. Je te dirai cela plus en détail quand nous nous

"Lewes m'a dit qu'il serait content d'avoir d'autres articles de moi
pour la 'Fortnightly Review.'"

Two days later he wrote:--

"I dined with the Mackays yesterday; Mr. Watkiss Lloyd was there, and
other friends came in the evening. I spent the day at home, writing, but
I have an engagement for every night this week--I am becoming a sort of
professional diner-out.

"I have been talking over the illustrations of the 'Painter's Camp' with
George Leslie. He has promised to do twenty etchings of figure-subjects
to illustrate it, and I shall do twenty landscapes. I have learned a
great deal from Haden here, and I feel sure now of grappling
successfully with the difficulties which plagued me before. Besides, I
am anxious to have a book with etchings in it out in time to appear with
the work on Etching. I am sure this new edition of the 'Painter's Camp'
will be something jolly. It's nice to think I shall have two beautiful
books out at Christmas. It will give my reputation a fillip. It appears
that Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, and George Eliot are amongst my
most assiduous readers. Isn't it pleasant to have readers of that

I will give here a few more extracts from his letters at that time; it
is the best way of becoming acquainted with his method of work, as well
as with the state of his mind.

"Yesterday I went to see some exhibitions and Mrs. Cameron's
photographs; they are really very fine, quite different from anything
one ever saw before. You will be very much struck with them, I am sure.

"Mr. Palgrave and I spent a delightful evening together yesterday; we
talked till midnight. I found him a pleasant companion. We had some
music; Mrs. Palgrave plays well. He has a nice collection of Greek
vases, which would delight Mariller. [A figure-painter who lived at
Autun, and who drew the figures for the 'Unknown River.']

"The more I reflect on matters, the more I rejoice to live far away from
here. Known as I am now, I am sure that if I lived in or near London I
should be exposed to frequent interruptions, and gradually our dear
little private life would be taken away from us both. Besides, this
continued excitement would kill me, I could never stand it; I really
need quiet, and I get it at Pré-Charmoy. Just now I bear up pretty well,
but I know I could not stand this for three months--out _every_ evening,
working or seeing people, or going in omnibuses. And then I need the
great refreshment of being able to talk to thee, and to hear thee talk,
and play with the children a little; all that is good for me,--in fact,
I live upon it. I want to be back again. My breakfast in the morning is
a difficulty; as you know, I never can eat an English one, and if I
don't I am not fit for much fatigue. The distances, too, are terrible.
Still, on the whole, I keep better than I expected to do. I hope the
dear little boys are both quite well, and my little daughter, who is the
apple of my eye."

About the difficulty of eating an English breakfast, it must be
explained that since Gilbert had begun to suffer from nervousness he had
given up coffee and tea; besides, he only liked a very light breakfast,
and we had tried different kinds of food for the morning meal: chocolate
he could not digest, although it was to his taste; cocoa he did not care
for; beer and dry biscuits succeeded for a time, but at last we
discovered that soup was the best breakfast for him, vegetable soup
(_soupe maigre_) especially, because it must not be too rich. At home I
always made his soup myself, for, being always the same--by his own
choice--he was particular about the flavor; it was merely onion-soup
with either cream and parsley, or onion-soup with Liebig and chervil. In
the great summer heat he took instead of it cold milk and brown bread.
It may be easily surmised that such a frugal meal could not last him far
into the day, particularly as he was a very early riser, and often had
his bowl of soup at six in the morning; then, when he felt hungry
again--at ten generally--he drank a glass of beer and ate a slice of
home-made _brioche_, which allowed him to await the twelve o'clock
_déjeuner à la fourchette_.

The following passage is extracted from a letter written a few days
after those already given:--

"J'ai dîné chez Woolner hier. Quel brave garçon! Ses manières avec moi
sont tout-à-fait affectueuses, et je me sens avec lui sur le pied de la
plus parfaite intimité. Il n'y a pas un homme a Londres qui possède un
cercle d'amis comme le sien: tout ce qu'il y a de plus distingué _en
tout_. Palgrave dit que Woolner fait un choix sérieux dans ses amitiés.
Sa femme est jolie, délicate, gracieuse, intelligente; elle me fait
l'effet d'un lys.

"J'ai reçu la visite de Haden hier, il m'a plus enseigné relativement à
l'eau-forte en une demi-heure de conversation que dix ans de pratique ne
l'auraient fait. Voici mes engagements:--

"Samedi, dîner chez Leslie.
Dimanche, tantôt chez Lewes.
Lundi, dîner chez Pearce.
Mardi, " " Mackay.
Mercredi, " " Shaw.
Jeudi, " " Woolner.
Vendredi, toute la journée avec Woodward.
Samedi, soirée chez Marks.
Lundi, dîner chez Haden.
Mardi, " " Constable fils:

"et il n'y a pas de raison pour que cela s'arrête, excepté mon depart
pour West Lodge qui sera, je crois, pour mercredi."

However, he had to postpone his departure on account of a distressing
and alarming disturbance of his nervous system. Mr. Haden recommended
him to give up all kind of work immediately, which he did, and for a few
days he only wrote short notes.

"NORTHUMBERLAND STREET. _Wednesday Morning_.

"Je suis toujours faible, mais je crois que je puis supporter le voyage
aujourd'hui. Si j'étais une fois à West Lodge je m'y reposerais bien. Si
je me sentais fatigué je m'arrêterais n'importe où. La surexcitation
cérébrale est _complètement passée_, mais je n'espère pas être remis
avant un mois."

From West Lodge he wrote, in answer to one of my letters:--

"Our present business is to look simply to the question, what will be
most economical? I have no objection to any arrangement which will save
my keeping a man, but I have a decided objection to that. [It was about
the garden, one half of which I proposed to cede on condition of having
the other half cultivated free of charge.] Any arrangement you make
_that does not involve my keeping a man_ has my approbation beforehand.

"I saw Macmillan again before leaving, and now he is for bringing out
the new edition of the 'Painter's Camp' in May. It will be a pretty
little book, but I can't get Macmillan to go to the expense about
illustrations. Colnaghi will publish etchings for me, and after all the
hints and instructions received from Haden, I feel quite sure that I
shall succeed in etching.

"I expect to be at Pré-Charmoy in a few days, when I shall be delighted
to see you all, my treasures."

Having returned to London, he writes:--

"I spent last evening with Beavington Atkinson, who was to have come to
see us in France; you remember Woodward wrote about him. He and his wife
are most agreeable people, and I like him really; there is something so
intelligent and pleasing in his manner.

"Yesterday I went through Buckingham Palace to see the pictures. There
is a fine Dutch collection. Then I went to the British Museum to see the
Rembrandt etchings, and was accompanied by a collector, Mr. Fisher. This
evening I am to spend with Haden again; he has a magnificent collection
of etchings, and will help me very much with my book. So now I am sure
of the right quantity of assistance in my work.

"I was with the editor of the 'Saturday' this afternoon; nothing could
exceed his kind, trustful way.

"Still, I wish I were back with you; but I shall hurry now and come back

Two days later:--

"Je me sens de nouveau fatigué. J'ai causé aujourd'hui avec l'aubergiste
de Walton-on-Thames, et il m'a dit qu'il nous nourrirait et nous
logerait tous les deux pour £2 par semaine. On y est très bien, il y a
un jardin, et des études à faire en quantité. Mr. Haden pense que la
peinture ne fatiguerait pas autant le cerveau que la littérature.

"Si je t'avais avec moi, et si je restais plus longtemps, je n'aurais
pas besoin l'année prochaine de revenir au mois de juillet. Voilà le
rêve que j'ai fait. Je viendrais à Londres une ou deux fois par semaine
seulement, et je t'aurais là-bas. Je ne pense pas vivre sans toi, je
meurs d'ennui."

The kind of life we led at Pré-Charmoy suited perfectly my husband's
tastes, and he was soon restored to health. He would have been entirely
happy but for pressing cares; still, thanks to his philosophical
disposition, he contrived to enjoy what was enjoyable in his life. He
was extremely fond of excursions in the country, and we often used to
set off with nurse and children in the farmer's cart, to spend the day
in some picturesque place, where he could sketch or paint. We had our
provisions with us, and both lunched and dined on the grass under the
fine chestnuts or oaks, so numerous in the Morvan, by the side of a
clear stream or rivulet; for running water had a sort of magic influence
upon Gilbert, and instinctively, when unwell from nervous exhaustion, he
sought its soothing influence. We generally rambled about the country
after each meal, and whilst he drew I read to him, leaving the children
to their play, under the charge of the nurse.

So far we had taken upon ourselves the teaching of the boys, but for
some time past I had perceived that it was becoming inadequate to their
present requirements, and I told their father that I thought they should
be sent to college,--any rate the eldest, who was nearly eight years
old; but he demurred, not seeing the necessity for it. He had a notion
that they could be much better educated at home, according to a plan of
his own: Latin and Greek would be reserved for their teens, because it
was a clear loss of time before, and they would be taught modern
languages early, together with science and literature. To this I
objected, that, if successful, it might be a very good education for
boys who were certain of an independence, but that it did not seem a
good way towards the degrees necessary for almost every one of the
liberal professions. Besides, who was to teach the boys when he was
away? and would he always find spare time to do it, and regular hours
also? I was certain he would never be punctual as to time; only he did
not like to be told so, because, being aware of this shortcoming, he
made earnest efforts to correct it, and constantly failed. It was
difficult to him to bear any kind of interruption, or any compulsory
change of work--involving loss of time--and on that score very trying to
one who wanted always to finish what he had in hand. He hardly ever came
down at meal-times without the bell being rung twice, and often when he
did come down, he used to say: "That bell was getting angry," and he was
met with this stereotyped phrase from us: "And it made you abandon the
refractory sentence at last!"

Well, he acknowledged there was some weight in my objections to home
instruction, but "he could give tasks to be done in his absence, and
correct them afterwards." I asked, who could help the young students
when they were in a fix? and would they be always inclined to apply
themselves steadily to their tasks without supervision? That was
expecting too much, but it seemed natural to him to expect it, as study
and work had ever been both a necessity and a pleasure to him. However,
he yielded, but so strong was his disapproval of public school teaching
as it was carried on, that at first he would have nothing to do with it.
I had to go to the principal of the college, and make terms and
arrangements; the only condition he made was that the boys should come
home every Saturday night, and remain till Monday morning, and the same
from Wednesday to Friday regularly, for their English lessons and for
their health. I desired nothing better, and the principal agreed to it.
Whenever the boys complained of anything about their college life
afterwards, their father used to say good-humoredly: "I have no
responsibility in the matter; _I_ did not want you to go to college, you
know--it was your mother."

Pré-Charmoy being four kilomètres distant from the town of Autun, and
five from the college, where the boys had to be in time for the eight
o'clock class, summer and winter, it became necessary to have some means
of conveying them to and fro, for they were still very young,--Stephen a
little over eight, and Richard hardly seven. The eldest boy went alone
at first, but his brother soon insisted on going too. We decided to do
like most of our country neighbors, that is, to have a little
donkey-cart, because it would have been both inconvenient and expensive
to hire the farmer's so frequently. Accordingly we bought a small,
second-hand carriage with its donkey, and I was taught to drive; my
husband would have preferred a pony, but I was nervous at the idea of
driving one, although I had been told that it was much easier to manage
than a donkey, and discovered afterwards that it was the truth.

The little cart proved a great convenience for my husband's studies, as
he could start with it at any time, and there was no trouble about the
care of the donkey, the servant-girls being accustomed to it from
infancy--almost every household in the vicinity being in possession of
this useful and inexpensive animal. There is a Morvandau song, known to
all the little shepherdesses, in illustration of the custom:--

  "Mes parents s'y mariant tou
  Mé j'garde l'âne (_bis_).
  Mes parents s'y mariant tou
  Mé j'garde l'âne taut mon saoûl!

  "Mais quand mon tour viendra
  Gardera l'âne (_bis_).
  Mais quand mon tour viendra
  Gardera l'âne qui voudra."

At first we had a swift little animal, which could not be stopped at all
when he was behind another carriage, till that carriage stopped first.
It was an advantage in some cases,--for instance, when preceded by a
good horse; but if the horse went further than our destination, one of
us had to jump out and hold back the fiery and stubborn little brute by
sheer force, till his sense of jealous emulation was appeased.

The load upon the cart, when we were all together, was found excessive
for the animal, and my husband, who was always deeply concerned about
the welfare of dumb creatures, decided to have a bigger and stronger
donkey. He bought a very fine one, strong enough to pull us all, but he
did it in such a leisurely fashion that he received the expressive name
of "Dort-debout." This led my husband to write to me sometimes from
London, after a hard day's work: "Here is a very short note, but I am
like our donkey, je dors debout."

The editor of the "Saturday Review" asked Mr. Hamerton to be present at
the opening of the Paris Exhibition of 1867, and to write a series of
articles on the works of art exhibited; then to proceed to London for a
review of the Academy. He wished me very much to go with him, and I
being nothing loth, we started together, and received in Paris the
following letter from Aunt Susan:--

"WEST LODGE. _April_ 20, 1867.

"MY DEAR NEPHEW,--I am very glad indeed to hear from you, as I now know
where to direct my long-intended epistle to you; your uncle thought you
would not like to come to the exhibition in its very unfinished state,
and I thought you would like to be at the opening of it, and so the
matter was resting quite unacted upon. I grieve very much to tell you of
the sad tidings we have of poor Anne Gould; there has been a
consultation with her medical men, and they pronounce her case very
serious,--in fact, incurable. She grows thinner and weaker almost every
week, and one lung is said to be affected. A confinement is expected in
July, and I cannot but still hope that she may possibly come round
again; but it has been sorrowful news. We shall be very glad to see you
_both_ at West Lodge when you can make it convenient, and I do hope and
trust we shall be able to enjoy the anticipated pleasure of your
company. You will have left home with comparative comfort, the boys
being both at college, and, I expect, grandmamma with the little sister.
I was very glad when you wrote 'before _we_ can be in England,' as it
assured me the little wife was not to be sent homeward from Paris,
instead of accompanying you to West Lodge, where we shall be very glad
to see her."

Nevertheless, I had to go homewards, for about three weeks after our
arrival in Paris I heard that my little daughter Mary was ill with
bronchitis, and I hastened to her whilst my husband was leaving for
London. I was doubly sorry, because he was very reluctant to go alone;
but although he felt a sort of instinctive dread of the journey he did
not attempt to detain me. He had borne the sight-seeing very well, and
the crowds, which he disliked; but it was mainly because he had been
spared hotel life, for we had lodged with a former servant of ours, who
was married at Pré-Charmoy, and now lived at La Glacière, in Paris. It
was by no means a fashionable quarter, and our lodgings left much to be
desired in the way of comfort, but it will be seen how much he regretted
it all when alone at Kew, where he had taken lodgings after much
suffering from fatigue, over-work, and depression. Still, the first news
from London was very gratifying:--

"Un mot seulement pour te dire que _toutes les huit eaux-fortes_ sont
reçues à l'Académie et bien placées. Ces Académiciens commencent à
devenir gentils.

"Ce matin je suis allé de bonne heure à l'Académie, comme d'habitude;
j'ai maintenant ma carte d'exposant dont je suis très fier."

But after a fortnight he wrote:--

"PETITE CHÉRIE,--Aujourd'hui je vais me donner le plaisir de
m'entretenir longuement avec toi. Combien je préférerais te parler de
vive voix. Je suppose que je suis très bien ici; c'est-à-dire j'ai tout
ce que j'aime matériellement: le bon air, la belle nature, un petit
appartement d'une propriété vraiment exquise, une belle rivière tout à
côté, et des canots à ma disposition. Et cependant, malgré cela je suis
d'une tristesse mortelle, et j'ai beau me raisonner là-contre. Nous
avons été si heureux ensemble à Paris, malgré notre sale petite rue que
je vois bien la vérité de ce que tu m'as dit qu'il vaudrait mieux vivre
dans n'importe quel tandis, ensemble, que dans des palais, et sépares.
Si je croyais à l'immortalité de l'âme, je regarderais avec effroi la
possibilité d'être au ciel pendant que tu resterais sur la terre. Je
crois que ma maladie est due principalement à la tristesse et je tâche
de lutter là-contre. Je vais faire quelques eaux-fortes et aquarelles
dans mes moments de loisir pour m'empêcher, autant que possible, de
penser à ma solitude.

"J'ai eu un peu de fièvre dans la nuit, et ce matin je suis calme, mais
fatigué. Il ne faut pas t'en alarmer cependant; le voyage et
l'exposition réclamaient une réaction, et elle arrive naturellement au
premier moment où j'ai la possibilité du repos. Quant au repos, je m'en
donne aujourd'hui pleinement; je ne fais rien; mais je me reposerais
mieux si tu étais ici pour me dire que tu m'aimes et pour mettre tes
douces mains sur mon front. Je deviens par trop dépendant de toi, je
voudrais être plus fort--et pourtant je crois qu'on est plus heureux
étant triste à cause d'une séparation d'avec la femme aimée que si l'on
était insensible à cette séparation. Allons! je ne voudrais pas vendre
ma tristesse pour beaucoup! elle s'en ira le jour où je te verrai; en
attendant je la garde volontiers."

Then follows a minute description of his lodgings, of Kew itself--the
gardens, the river, the different boats upon it--and he concludes:--

"Tiens, voilà que je redeviens un peu gai, ce qui est bon signe; peut-
être, quand j'aurai reçu une lettre de toi cela ira mieux. Ainsi, ta-ta,
good-bye; embrasse bien les chers enfants pour moi et dis à ma petite
Marie que je lui rapporterai une pépem [for _poupée_, which she could
not yet pronounce clearly] ou autre chose de beau."

A few days later:--

"Je suis allé aujourd'hui au musée Britannique continuer mes études. Le
système que j'ai adopté parait bon, et ça va bien. Je limite
rigoureusement mes travaux en choisissant seulement la crême de la crême
des planches.

"Je me suis promené ce soir au jardin de Kew; ces promenades me rendent
toujours triste, parce qu'à chaque bel arbre ou jolie fleur, je me
figure combien tu en jouirais si tu étais avec moi. Quand on s'est si
bien habitué à vivre à deux il est difficile de redevenir garçon. Dans
ces moments de tristesse je pense toujours à la séparation éternelle, et
au sort de celui de nous qui restera. Enfin j'apprends ici une chose qui
me servira toujours, c'est que pour moi maintenant tout est vanité sans
toi. J'ai un jardin Royal à ma disposition, des collections d'oeuvres
d'art superbes, les plus jolis canots, une belle rivière, de bons livres
à lire, du succès avec les éditeurs et une réputation en bonne voie, et
pourtant cette existence ne vaut pas la peine de vivre. Il est bon de
savoir ces choses là et de se connaître. À Paris où notre existence
matérielle était pleine d'ennuis, j'étais pourtant heureux. Il ne faut
pas de ton côté être triste parce que je le suis, du moins si tu peux
l'éviter. C'est une affaire de deux ou trois semaines, voilà tout. De
mon côté je suis si occupé que je n'ai pas le temps de penser à moi-
même, et je travaille avec la régularité d'un homme de bureau. C'est
lorsque je rentre chez moi que je souffre de ne point t'avoir.

"Quant à ma santé, elle va mieux. Je connais l'état de mon système
nerveux et l'effet que le chemin-de-fer lui produit. Aujourd'hui je n'en
ai rien ressenti du tout. Quand je suis malade, la vibration et le
mouvement des objets me font souffrir un peu."

On the following Sunday:--

"DEAR LITTLE WIFE,--Last night I passed the evening with a set of
artists, friends of George Leslie, at the house of one of them, Mr.
Hodgson. They acted charades, and as their costumes (from their own
ateliers) were numerous and rich, it was very good. Among them were
Calderon and Frederick Walker. This morning we all set out for a walk on
Hampstead Heath; I have no doubt the walk will do me good, but I am very
well now, and feel better every day.

"I called on Rossetti the painter; he lives in a magnificent house,
furnished with very great taste, but in the most extraordinary manner.
His drawing-room is very large indeed and most curious; the general
effect is very good. He was very kind in receiving me, and I saw his
pictures, which are splendid in color, and very quaint and strange in
sentiment. His own manners are singularly soft and pleasant. I called on
Mr. Barlow the engraver, and spent some time with him about the
etchings. He will lend me some; Marks will lend me some also. The worst
of the way I go on in London now is that society absorbs too much time.
I must restrict it in future very much."

After the walk to Hampstead he wrote:--

"Yesterday, Sunday, I went on a long walk to Hampstead with
several artists who live close together, and I never met seven more
agreeable and more gentlemanly men; I enjoyed our conversation
extremely. George Leslie and I got some lunch at the inn and walked back

"Calderon's studio that I saw a few days ago is richly tapestried and
very lofty; it is quite as fine as that of Millais. It seems Leighton
has built himself a studio forty feet long. Mr. Barlow, the engraver,
has a fine studio attached to the one you saw him in, and far larger.
All these artists complain of nothing but the too great prosperity of
the profession in these days; they tell me an artist's life is a
princely one now. They live and dress like gentlemen, and their
daughters might be 'clothed in scarlet.'

"The reason for my staying in London longer than I intended is the time
I have spent in society--a thing I certainly shall never do again--
because I go to bed so late, _always_ after twelve, whereas if I were
not in society I should go to bed at nine or ten, and keep my strength
up easily. Another thing I am sure of is that, _on the whole_, the
advantages of being isolated, as I am at Pré-Charmoy, counterbalance and
more than counterbalance the disadvantages. I certainly would not, if I
could, have a house in London; the loss of time is awful. The only good
in it for a painter is that the dealers are always after him for
pictures as soon as he succeeds.

"Mind you have a man from the farm to sleep in the house every night. It
would be well for him to have the gun loaded, only take care the
children don't get at it. My health is still tolerably good,
sufficiently so for me to get easily through what I have to do."

But the next news was far from being so satisfactory.

"J'ai des nouvelles de West Lodge qui sont vraiment tristes. Anne est
accouchée prématurément, et l'enfant--une fille--est morte après avoir
vécu deux nuits et un jour. On l'a baptisée Annie Jane Hamerton Gould.
Anne est dans un état de faiblesse tel qu'on n'espère pas la conserver
au-delà de quelques semaines, et mon pauvre oncle est dans l'île de
Wight avec elle, où tout cela se passe. La tante Susan, de son côté, est
malade d'une fièvre gastrique--maladie bien dangereuse, comme tu sais;
elle a pu m'écrire quelques mots au crayon; elle se trouve un peu mieux,
ce qui me fait espérer que probablement sa bonne constitution triomphera
du mal. Je voudrais aller la voir de suite, mais je suis tellement
retenu par mon travail; et puis le bon arrangement de ce travail et son
heureux succès m'avaient fait regagner un peu ma sérénité d'esprit, et
maintenant je souffre de nouveau pour mon oncle et ma tante. Vraiment
c'est pénible d'être là avec son dernier enfant qui s'en va si vite. Si
encore la pauvre petite avait vécu, mon oncle aurait eu une fille peur
remplacer les siennes, car il faut bien parler d'Anne comme d'une
personne morte.

"Je me félicite des résultats de mon nouveau système: je me lève de fort
bonne heure, j'ai fini dans l'Académie à 10 h. 1/2; alors je fais une
course, et immédiatement après je me rends au Musée où je déjeune. On y
déjeune très bien et pas cher; tu comprends que c'est pour les gens de
lettres qui travaillent à la bibliothèque. Je rentre ici à six heures,
et le soir je me promène un peu au jardin, ou sur l'eau; après quoi
j'écris à la petite femme chérie et je me couche. Aujourd'hui, comme
hier, j'ai étudié et décrit dix tableaux et dix planches. Je crois que
mes notes sur les aquafortistes iront plus vite que je ne l'avais
espéré. J'ai déjà terminé Claude, Salvator, Wilkie, Geddes, Ruysdaël,
Paul Potter. J'arriverai à ma vingtaine si ma santé se maintient pendant
tout mon séjour. Je réserve le samedi et le dimanche à Kew pour écrire
ou dessiner.

"Je m'étonne _du mauvais_ de certains aqua-fortistes célèbres. Dans
toute l'oeuvre de Ruysdaël je ne trouve que deux bonnes planches, et
encore si elles étaient publiées dans l'ouvrage de la Société Française,
je les trouverais peut-être mauvaises. Dans Salvator il y en a également
deux ou trois bonnes. L'oeuvre de Claude est belle en somme, avec
plusieurs mauvaises choses toutefois.

"Adieu, petite chérie, le temps de mon exil diminue, et alors je te
reverrai, toi et les enfants."

But he was suddenly and violently seized by a mysterious illness, which
threatened not only his life but his reason, as he told me afterwards.
He longed to have me near him, yet he was so courageous that, to spare
me, he only wrote that he was suffering from fatigue:--


"Ça va toujours tout doucement. Je me promène tranquillement. Je reste
encore ici deux nuits pour gagner un peu de force. Je suis toujours très
faible, mais le cerveau va mieux, je n'ai point de surexcitation
cérébrale. Je ne dois pas beaucoup écrire. Ainsi tata, ma bien aimée.

"_Lundi soir._

"Puisque je sais que tu dois être inquiète je t'écris une deuxième fois
aujourd'hui pour te dire que je vais _beaucoup mieux_. La force commence
à me revenir. Je me suis bien promené, lentement, toute la journée. Je
n'ai pas osé te dire combien j'ai désiré ta chère présence ces jours-ci.
Si je l'avais dit tu aurais été capable de te mettre en route. C'est
toujours triste d'être malade, mais c'est terrible quand on est seul
dans une auberge. [He had gone to Walton-on-Thames for quiet and rest.]

"Enfin j'espère que c'est à peu près passé pour cette fois, et je me
promets bien de ne plus jamais travailler au-dessus de mes forces. Mr.
Haden dit que je n'ai point de maladie, mais que je suis incapable de
supporter tout travail excessif. Il va falloir régler tout cela."

"J'ai dû renoncer à mon travail pendant deux jours parce que j'ai besoin
de repos, et il me semble plus sage de le prendre à temps que de me
rendre malade. Lorsque je suis malade je ne puis pas me reposer, tandis
que maintenant, je suis simplement fatigué. Je dors bien, mais comme je
suis seul dans mon logement, je deviens tout triste. Je n'ose pas penser
du tout à Pré-Charmoy parce que cela me donne une telle envie de te voir
que j'en serais malade. Ah! si la force physique voulait seulement
répondre à la force morale! Moralement, je n'ai jamais été plus fort,
plus disposé à la lutte; et puis ces jours de fatigue arrivent et
m'accablent, et je souffre dix fois plus qu'un paresseux s'y

"Beaucoup de baisers aux enfants, et beaucoup pour toi, petite femme
trop chérie. Je n'ose penser combien ce serait gentil si tu étais ici
auprès de moi."

In answer I immediately proposed to go to him, as our little daughter
was convalescent, and her grandmother would take care of her during my
absence, but he declined.

"PETITE CHÉRIE DE MON COEUR,--Je viens de recevoir ta bonne lettre, il
n'est pas nécessaire que tu viennes; je gagne graduellement. J'ai passé
la soirée avec Mr. Pearce qui sait que je suis malade. J'ai échappé sans
doute à un grave danger, j'ai même eu peur de perdre la raison; mais
tout cela est passé; je suis calme et quoique faible encore--plus fort.
C'est surtout mentalement que je vais mieux, ce qui est le plus
essentiel: le corps suivra. Je n'ai pas osé entreprendre le voyage de
Todmorden aujourd'hui, mais j'ai l'espoir de pouvoir partir demain.
Quoique en état de convalescence, je suis obligé d'être prudent et
d'éviter les grandes fatigues. Le médecin dit qu'il faudra un changement
dans ma manière de vivre. Le fait est que je me tue en travaillant et je
sens que je n'irais pas trois ans comme cela. Enfin je me dis que
puisque ma mort ne te ferait pas de bien, je dois tâcher de me
conserver; si ma mort pouvait t'être utile je mourrais bien volontiers.
Ta chère lettre, toute pleine d'affection, m'a fait du bien. Dis à mon
bon petit Stephen que je le remercie de toute sa tendresse pour moi et
que je vais mieux. J'ai beaucoup pensé à mes chers enfants, ne sachant
pas si je les reverrais.

"Je t'ai tout dit; ça a été seulement un état d'abattement complet
accompagné d'excitation des centres nerveux."

"KEW. _Thursday_.

"Le temps est si mauvais que je n'ai pas pu faire une seule esquisse. Ma
tante Susan t'a écrit pour te dire que la pauvre Anne a cessé de
souffrir. J'ai reçu une lettre de son mari qui me dit que les derniers
jours ont été bien pénibles. Je ne vais toujours pas bien à cause de la
tristesse et de l'inquiétude que tout cela m'a causé, mais il ne faut
pas être inquiète pour moi; ça se passera dans un jour ou deux, tu sais
que je suis très impressionnable.

"Il me prend de temps en temps d'angoissantes envies de te voir. Dans
ces moments-là il me semble que je réalise chaque mètre, chaque
centimètre de l'effroyable distance qui nous sépare. Je suis obligé de
lutter fortement contre ces idées qui finiraient par me rendre malade.

"Je dois maintenant aller au train; à demain donc."

"WEST LODGE. _Vendredi_.

"Je suis bien arrivé chez ma tante que j'ai trouvée en bonne santé, mais
je suis toujours horriblement triste ici, et je me le reproche, car ma
tante est toujours si bonne. Elle nous avait destiné la belle
chambre-à-coucher, et j'ai la chambre tout seul, ce qui ne contribue pas
à diminuer ma tristesse. Une chose au moins me console: j'ai le matériel
pour mon livre sur l'eau-forte, c'est beaucoup. Je crois la publication
de ce livre si essentielle à mon avenir, comme soutien de ma réputation,
que j'aurais été vraiment désolé de ne pas pouvoir le faire maintenant.
Ayant tout le matériel dans ma tête, je ferai l'ouvrage très vite, et je
suis convaincu qu'il sera bon et tout-à-fait nouveau. J'ai bien besoin
maintenant d'un peu de bruit pour augmenter ma réputation, car ces
articles anonymes ne l'aident point.

"Dans ta tristesse, ma chérie, il faut toujours avoir la plus grande
confiance en la durée de mon amour pour toi. Je crois que mon amour et
ma loyauté sont au moins aussi forts que le sentiment de l'héroïsme
militaire. Il me semble que si les soldats peuvent supporter toutes les
privations pour leur roi ou pour leur patrie, je dois pouvoir en faire
autant pour ma femme. Compte sur ma tendresse, même dans les
circonstances les plus difficiles, tu l'auras toujours. Grâce à ton
influence, je suis beaucoup plus capable qu'autrefois de supporter les
difficultés de la vie, et si nous avions à vivre dans une pauvre
chaumière, je t'aiderais gaiement à faire les travaux du petit ménage en
y consacrant deux ou trois heures par jour, et quand tu coudrais je te
ferais un peu la lecture, et toujours je t'aimerais. Ainsi crois que,
loin de souffrir des devoirs que je me suis imposés, j'y trouve la plus
profonde satisfaction, et que je me trouve plus respectable que si je ne
faisais rien."

"WEST LODGE. Vendredi.

"J'avais l'intention de partir aujourd'hui mais la tante Susan paraît
tellement triste quand je parle de m'en aller que j'ai dû reculer mon
départ jusqu'à lundi. Du reste j'ai fait trois planches que je crois
bonnes; j'y ai bien travaillé; j'ai aussi écrit trois articles, mais mon
travail pour la Revue ne gagne pas grand'chose, et du moment où la
peinture rapportera, je quitterai la revue; je n'aime pas ce genre de
travail, quoiqu'on dise que je le fais bien. J'aimerais autant être
cocher de fiacre. Ce que j'ai toujours désiré faire c'est de la
peinture; mes efforts dans cette direction n'ont pas abouti jusqu'à
présent, mais si j'avais un peu de temps libre, je saurais mieux faire à
cause de mon expérience de critique; je vois maintenant dans quel sens
il faut travailler.

"Je vis à Londres aussi simplement que possible et pourtant mes séjours
y sont très coûteux. Quant à la réputation, en comparaison du bonheur de
vivre tranquillement avec toi, elle m'est absolument indifférente. Il me
semble que lorsque le mari et la femme sont si parfaitement d'accord sur
le but de la vie, il doit être facile d'y parvenir. Notre plus grand
désir à tous les deux c'est d'être ensemble; eh! bien, du moment où les
choses nous seront propices, nous réaliserons notre désir, et même par
la volonté nous forcerons les circonstances, c'est-à-dire que nous
supporterons des inconvénients pour y arriver. Déjà Wallis et Colnaghi
consentent à exposer mes ouvrages; mes eaux-fortes sont appréciées.
Peut-être dans un temps comparativement rapproché serai-je en position
de donner ma démission--non seulement à la Saturday, mais à la
littérature, et à me dévouer exclusivement à l'Art. Du moment où cela
arrivera il sera infiniment plus facile d'être ensemble, car je tâcherai
de faire un genre d'Art qui me permettra d'étudier chez nous, ou dans un
petit rayon. Enfin regardons la situation actuelle comme pénible, mais
pas du tout permanente. Tu peux compter que du moment où je le pourrai
je quitterai la Revue; j'y suis bien décidé."

After this letter, my husband, feeling much better, came back to London
to resume his work, and wrote about what he thought most important or
most interesting to me. I shall quote from his letters in their order
according to dates.

WATERLOO PLACE, KEW. _Lundi soir_.

"Mr. Macmillan m'a reçu parfaitement, presque affectueusement; il m'a
invité à dîner. Je suis allé voir Mr. Seeley, mon nouvel éditeur, que
j'ai trouvé intelligent, comme il faut, jeune encore, et parfaitement
cordial. Je crois que mes relations avec lui seront tout-à-fait faciles.
[Footnote: Mr. Seeley had asked him to write some notes on Contemporary
French Painters, to be illustrated with photographs.]

"L'exposition, en somme, est belle. Il y a plusieurs tableaux
remarquables, entre autres une Vénus de Leighton que je trouve superbe.
La contribution de Landseer est importante, c'est un portrait de la
Reine, à cheval, en deuil; cheval _noir_, _trois chiens noirs_, groom
_noir_, _ciel noir_.

"C'est agréable de rentrer le soir en pleine campagne; ça me fait du
bien. Je n'ose pas penser combien ce serait gentil si ma chérie était
avec moi, parceque cela me rend triste tout de suite; mais je t'écrirai
_presque_ tous les jours, quelquefois brièvement quand je serai trop
pressé. Sois gentille toi, et écris souvent; les bonnes nouvelles que tu
m'envoies de ta santé et de celle des enfants m'ont rendu mon courage
et--ce que je puis avoir de gaieté."


"Il paraît que j'avais encore besoin de repos, car aujourd'hui je suis
très fatigué. J'espère que lundi j'irai mieux; un ou deux jours de repos
me sont nécessaires: voilà tout. _Je n'ai point de surexcitation
cérébrale_; je dors bien et je me repose pleinement, ce qui ne doit pas
tarder à rétablir mes forces. Je souffre d'être seul. Mr. Gould va venir
passer huit jours ici; je trouve amiable de sa part de bien vouloir
venir s'établir à Kew pour être près de moi; mon oncle viendra peut-être

"Je vais me plaindre un peu, tout doucement, de la petite chérie de
Pré-Charmoy; elle n'écrit pas assez souvent à son mari qui reçoit
toujours ses lettres avec tant de plaisir. Il y a pourtant une de ces
lettres qui a donné tant de bonheur qu'elle peut compter pour une
douzaine. Pauvre chérie! comme je voudrais toujours réussir à rendre ta
vie douce et agréable! Depuis que je ne vis plus pour moi, mais pour toi
et les enfants, j'ai goûté moi-même un nouveau genre de bonheur mêlé de
nouvelles tristesses. Ces tristesses sont dues à la pensée que je fais
si peu, et que, avec plus de forces je ferais tant et si bien! Avec la
force je serais sûr maintenant de réussir pleinement. Je tiens la
réputation par un petit bout, mais je la tiens, et elle augmentera. Tout
me prouve que notre avenir serait assuré si j'avais autant de force que
de volonté."


"Je suis allé voir George Eliot et Lewes qui a été charmant; il est venu
s'asseoir à côté de moi où il est resté tout le temps de ma visite, et
lorsque je suis parti, il s'est beaucoup plaint de ne pas me voir
davantage. Il me traite d'une façon très affectueuse, et en même temps
avec un respect qui, venant de lui, me flatte beaucoup. Quant à George
Eliot elle est très aimable, mais elle a le défaut de rester toujours
assise an même endroit, et quand il y a du monde, la seule personne qui
puisse causer avec elle, est son voisin. Quand j'y retournerai, je
m'installerai auprès d'elle, parce que je tiens à la connaître un peu
mieux. J'y ai rencontré Mr. Ralston qui s'était assis modestement un peu
en dehors du cercle où j'étais et pendant tout le temps de sa visite, il
n'a presque rien dit et c'est à peine si on lui a parlé. J'ai trouvé ces
arrangements mauvais. Les gens qui reçoivent doivent souvent changer de
place, de façon à causer avec tous leurs visiteurs.

"Lundi dernier j'ai dîné chez Mr. Craik--le mari de l'auteur de 'John
Halifax.' Il habite un charmant cottage à Beckenham, un endroit à quatre
lieues de Londres où il vient tous les jours en chemin-de-fer. Tu sais
qu'il est l'associé de Macmillan. Nous avons passé une soirée fort
agréable; c'est un homme très cultivé, qui autrefois était auteur, et
qui a occupé une chaire de littérature à Edimbourg. Sa femme, quoique
célèbre, est simple et très aimable; elle m'a dit que quand tu
viendrais, elle désirait te connaître.

"Mardi j'ai dîné chez le Professeur Seeley, le frère de mon éditeur; il
a occupé la chaire de Latin à l'Université de Londres. C'est l'auteur
d'_Ecce Homo_. Macmillan m'ayant donné ce livre, je l'ai trouvé très
fort comme style et d'une hardiesse étonnante. L'auteur est des plus
sympathiques; il a des manières charmantes--si modestes et si
intelligentes, car les manières peuvent montrer de l'intelligence.
J'aime beaucoup les deux frères, et dans le peu de temps que je les ai
vus j'en ai fait des amis.

"Mercredi j'ai dîné chez moi, ayant un article à écrire. Jeudi chez
Stephen Pearce. Vendredi chez Mr. Wallis, le marchand de tableaux. C'est
un homme très délicat et très fin. Il avait invité Mr. Burgess, un
artiste intelligent et agréable que j'avais déjà rencontré au Salon de
l'année dernière. J'ai rencontré Tom Taylor à l'exposition. Wallis et
nous avons causé quelque temps ensemble. J'ai rencontré Clifton et dîné
avec lui à son Club."

_"Lundi matin_.

"Je suis allé hier passer le tantôt chez Lewes, on a été enchanté de mes
eaux-fortes. George Eliot s'est plainte de ne pas avoir assez causé avec
moi à ma dernière visite, et m'a invitè à prendre place à côté d'elle.
Nous avons parlé d'art, de littérature et d'elle même. Elle m'a dit que
personne n'avait eu plus d'inquiétudes et de souffrances dans le travail
qu'elle, et que le peu qu'elle fait lui coûte énormément.

"J'ai discuté avec Lewes l'idée de faire la réimpression de mes
articles, et il m'a conseillé de ne pas le faire si je puis fonder un
livre sur ces articles. J'avoue que je serais assez tenté de faire un
ouvrage sérieux sur la peinture, pour lequel mes articles serviraient de

"_Samedi soir._

"J'ai dîné hier soir chez Mr. Macmillan, nous étions seuls d'hommes. Il
y avait sa femme, ses enfants, et une grand'mère. Il a une famille
nombreuse, de beaux enfants. Sa femme est bonne, et si simple que j'ai
rarement vu un comme-il-faut plus achevé sans être de la distinction. La
maison est très spacieuse et entourée d'arbres magnifiques. Ce qu'il y a
de particulier dans cette maison, c'est un caractère intime et d'aisance
ancienne. Macmillan a su éviter avec un tact parfait, tout ce qui
pouvait rappeler le nouveau riche. On se croirait dans une grande maison
de campagne, à cinquante lieues de Londres, et dans une ancienne famille
établie là depuis plusieurs générations.

"Nous avons passé toute la soirée ensemble. Il laisse entièrement à mon
jugement tout ce qui regarde l'illustration de mon livre. Ce que j'ai
aimé dans cette maison, comme dans toutes les personnes que j'y ai
trouvées, a été l'absence complète de toute affectation. Tout est
homogène et je n'ai encore jamais vu une maison de campagne ayant cet
aspect-là. Mon respect pour Macmillan s'est considérablement augmentée
de ce qu'on ne rencontre chez lui aucune splendeur vulgaire: rien ne
parle d'argent chez lui.

"La conversation a été très générale. Quand je suis parti, il m'a
reconduit à travers un champ pour abréger mon chemin à la station. Il a
chanté quelques vieilles chansons avec beaucoup de caractère; j'ai
chanté un peu aussi--et pourtant je ne suis guère disposé à chanter.
Anne avait montré tant de contentement quand je suis allé la voir à
Sheffield--et penser que je ne la reverrai plus. Je souffre aussi pour
mon oncle, je me mets à sa place en pensant à ma petite Mary; si je la
perdais plus tard!... et puis--et puis, tu sais comment viennent les
idées noires, et combien un malheur vous en fait craindre d'autres."


"Je me sens de nouveau fatigué et cette fatigue semble persister. Il est
bien possible que l'ennui et la nostalgie y soient pour quelque chose.

"Figure-toi qu'il y a une jeune _peintresse_ qui m'a été recommandée, et
dont la situation est bien précaire; j'ai eu la faiblesse de lui écrire
une petite lettre gentille et encourageante et me voilà en butte à des
éclats de désespoir ou de reconnaissance; de reproches et de
remerciements. Le plaisir de faire du bien à ceux qui souffrent est tel,
que l'on voudrait s'en donner, et le critique est souvent tenté de
manger de ce sucre-là.

"Je ne regrette pas de m'être établi à Kew; il n'y a qu'une chose contre
Kew, c'est que je n'y connais personne, tandis qu'à St. John's Wood j'ai
plusieurs amis. Mais la solitude a aussi ses avantages et quand on voit
du monde tous les jours, on peut bien passer la soirée chez soi. Si la
petite femme était seulement ici, ce serait parfait."


"Petite femme chérie qui a été gentille puisqu'elle a écrit deux

"Celle-ci est simplement pour te dire que mon repos a enfin produit son
effet et que je suis rentré dans mon état ordinaire. Aujourd'hui je me
rends au Musée, et j'ai pu écrire.

"Mon oncle est arrivé hier soir, il partage mon salon, mais je lui ai
loué une chambre-à-coucher dans la maison voisine. Il ne paraît pas trop
abattu; nous causons beaucoup et je tâche de l'égayer autant que sa
position le permet. Il est moins réservé qu'autrefois et me laisse voir
davantage le cours de ses pensées qui vont souvent à ses filles et à sa
femme. Je l'emmène aujourd'hui à l'Académie. Il y a une chose qui doit
te rassurer quant à l'état de ma santé, c'est que je n'ai jamais ces
sensations au cerveau dont j'ai souffert. Le cerveau n'est pas fatigué
et en me reposant à temps, je répare rapidement mes forces. Ce qui est
vraiment insupportable ce sont les séparations, et j'ai bien de la peine
à m'y résigner, et je ne m'y résignerais pas du tout si la peinture
rapportait. Mais en mettant les choses au pis pour les affaires
d'argent, j'espère que tu me verras toujours courageux et affectueux
dans l'adversité; je me figure que depuis quelque temps j'ai appris à la
supporter sans qu'elle puisse m'aigrir. Si je dois vivre de
pommes-de-terre, ou même mourir de faim, tu me verras toujours dévoué
jusqu'à la mort. Celles-ci ne sont pas de vaines paroles; je suis prêt à
les soutenir dans une pauvre cabane ou sur le lit d'un hôpital."


"T'ai-je dit que j'avais trouvé ici-même un locataire étudiant la
botanique à 'l'herbarium' tous les jours, et qu'en nous promenant
ensemble au jardin, les soirs, il m'apprend les noms des arbres qui ne
sont pas indiqués. J'ai aussi des fleurs sur ma fenêtre: je t'en donne
une. Je ne connais pas le langage des fleurs, mais si celle-ci ne te dit
pas que je t'aime beaucoup--beaucoup--elle interprète bien mal mes

"J'ai lu un peu du livre de Max Müller sur l'étude _comparative_ des
langues. C'est excessivement curieux. Tu n'as aucune idée de combien
l'étymologie est intéressante quand elle est basée sur la connaissance
de tant d'idiômes; on peut tracer la parenté les mots d'une manière
étonnante; les changements dans la façon de les écrire ont pour résultat
de les dénaturer tellement que nous avons beaucoup de peine à les
reconnaître sans _retracer_ toute leur histoire dans la littérature. Mr.
Max Müller retrace ainsi, d'une manière ingénieuse, mais bien
convainçante, l'usage des mots pour arriver à leurs racines primitives,
et puis il forme des théories d'après ces comparaisons--qui sont au
moins toujours intéressantes. Ce qu'il y a de remarquable c'est qu'on
retrouve les mêmes mots dans les endroits les plus éloignés, des mots
Anglais et Français qui ont leur origine dans le Sanskrit; et de même
pour d'autres idiomes. Max Müller diffère des philologues anciens en
ceci que tandis qu'ils étudiaient seulement les langues classiques, lui
trouve la lumière et le matériel partout, même dans le Patois: ainsi le
Provençal lui a été indispensable et bien d'autres langues encore que
les amateurs des classiques négligent généralement."

This interest in languages grew with years. When at Sens, we studied
Italian together, but my increasing deafness made me abandon it on
account of the pronunciation, whilst my husband, on the contrary, made
it a point to read some pages of it every day, and even to write his
diary in that language. Later still, he used to send to Florence some
literary compositions to be corrected. After the marriage of his
daughter, he used occasionally to ask his son-in-law, M. Raillard, for
lessons in German, and had even undertaken to write, with his
collaboration, a work on philology which was to have been entitled,
"Words on their Travels, and Stay-at-Home Words," which his unexpected
death cut short. In the afternoon of the day on which he died, as he was
coming back home from the Louvre in a tram-car, he took out of his
pocket a volume of Virgil, and read it the whole way. "I furbish up my
Latin and Greek when on a steamer or in omnibuses," he said to me; "it
prevents my being annoyed by the loss of time."

"_Jeudi soir_.

"Je suis retourné chez Seeley où on m'a traité d'une façon tout-à-fait
délicate; le Professeur est un des hommes les plus sympathiques que
j'aie rencontrés. Je t'en parlerai plus longuement de vive voix, et
quant à son frère Richmond je n'ai jamais connu quelqu'un avec qui je
m'entende aussi facilement. Il y a une chose bien charmante en lui,
c'est que, bien qu'il soit à la tête d'une grande maison, il n'a jamais
l'air pressé et vous écoute avec une patience parfaite.

"Ce que tu me dis de 'mon courage au travail et à la lutte' me paye pour
bien des heures de besogne. Tout ce qui me décourage parfois, c'est ma
faible santé qui m'oblige souvent à paraître paresseux sous peine d'être

"Il me tarde tant de te revoir que je suis comme un pauvre prisonnier en
pays étranger, loin de la Dame de ses pensées. Alors, tu sais, il faut
m'écrire et embrasser les enfants pour moi."


"J'ai été désolé de ne pas pouvoir t'écrire aujourd'hui; il est
maintenant 1 h. du matin. Je vais _bien_, mais je suis accablé de
travaux et pourtant je veux partir bientôt; je finirai à la maison.
Aujourd'hui j'ai terminé mon article juste à temps pour l'impression.
Comme notre âne 'Je dors debout'; aujourd'hui je tombais presque de
sommeil dans les rues de Londres.

"Les travaux sur l'eau-forte sont terminés cette fois. À bientôt!"

"22 RUE DE L'OUEST PARIS. _Lundi_.

"Je suis arrivé hier à 5 h. du soir. _Je ne suis pas du tout fatigué_,
ce qui semble indiquer une augmentation de force, car tu sais que les
longs voyages me fatiguent généralement beaucoup. Je suis allé ce matin
dès 8 h. chez Delâtre oû j'ai fait tirer mes planches. On fait le tirage
de suite et les livraisons paraîtront cette semaine.

"Quant à mes pauvres enfants, je suis désolé de les savoir malades, mais
ta lettre m'encourage à espérer qu'ils sont en bonne voie de
convalescence. Tu as dû avoir un temps difficile à passer ainsi tout
seule: chère petite femme, je crois que si j'y avais été c'eût été plus
facile pour toi: les enfants de mon ami Pearce sont également malades de
la scarlatine.

"Hier soir j'ai dîné chez Froment [the artist who paints such beautiful
decorative works for Sèvres]; ce matin j'ai déjeuné chez Froment, ce
soir j'y dîne, et ainsi de suite."

M. Froment had been most hospitable to both of us during our stay in
Paris; he had given us a day at Sèvres, and had shown us the
_Manufacture_ in all its details. He was a widower, and inconsolable for
the loss of his wife, whose memory was as sacred to him as religion. His
two daughters were at home; the eldest watching maternally over the
younger sister, who, however, died a few years later. M. Froment's
feelings, perceptions, and tastes were exquisitely refined, and my
husband derived both benefit and pleasure from the friendly intercourse.
In after years Gilbert met M. Froment occasionally, and found him always
full of kindness and regard.

After nursing the children through scarlatina I caught it myself, and
when my husband knew of it, he wrote:--

"I write just to say how sorry I am not to be able to set off _at once_,
and be at your bedside. I shall certainly not be later than Saturday. I
am of course very busy, and have no time for letter-writing. I have seen
Docteur Dereims to-day, and told him of your illness. He insists on the
necessity of the greatest care during your convalescence. You must
especially avoid _cold drinks_, as highly dangerous.

"Things are going on as I wish for my book on Etching. I am getting hold
of plates which alone would make it valuable. Pray take care of
yourself. I wish I were with you."

On the following day:--

"I am very sorry to hear you had such a bad night; but from all I can
hear from Dr. Dereims you are only going through the usual course of the
illness. I will be with you on Saturday without fail. You may count upon
me as upon an attentive, though not, I fear, a very skilful nurse. But I
will try, like some other folks, to make up in talk what I lack in
professional skill. I am tolerably well, but rather upset by this news
from Pré-Charmoy. I could not sleep much last night.

"I am going to the exhibition to-day, and will be thinking of little
wife all the time. I have met with a quantity of very fine paper for
etching, of French manufacture, and have obtained Macmillan's authority
to purchase it for the _text also_. It will be a splendid publication. I
feel greater and greater hopes about that book.

"Only forty-eight hours of separation from the time I write."

The day after:--

"Enfin il y a bien peu de chose à faire à mes planches, et j'espère que
dans un jour ce sera terminé.

"J'ai beaucoup de choses à te dire mais ce sera pour nos bonnes
causeries intimes. Je voyagerai toute la nuit de vendredi afin d'arriver
samedi dans la matinée. Quand je pense à toi et aux enfants, à la petite
maison, à la petite rivière et à tous les détails de cette délicieuse
existence que nous passons ensemble, il me faut beaucoup de courage pour
rester ici seul à terminer mon travail."

When my husband reached home, I was still in bed, and unwilling to let
him come to me for fear of infection; but he would not hear of keeping
away. "I never catch anything," he said gayly, "don't be anxious on my
account;" and he insisted upon sleeping on a little iron bedstead in the
dressing-room close to our bedroom, to nurse me in the night.

He soon recovered his usual health, with occasional troubles of the
nervous system; but he had grown careful about the premonitory symptoms,
and used to grant himself a holiday whenever they occurred. Having been
told whilst in London that novel-writing paid better than any other
literary production, he now turned his thoughts towards the possibility
of using his past experience for the composition of a story. It would be
a pleasant change from criticism, he said, and would exercise different
mental faculties. Very soon the plan of "Wenderholme" was formed, and we
entertained good hopes of its success.

In the month of September, 1866, the wedding of my sister
Caroline took place quietly at our house, Mr. Hamerton being looked
upon as the head of the family since the death of my father. Although he
prized his privacy above everything else, he was ready to sacrifice it
as a token of his affection for his sister-in-law, and went through all
the necessary trouble and expense for her sake. She married a young man
who had formed an attachment for her ever since she was fifteen years
old,--M. Pelletier,--and they went to live at Algiers, where he was then
Commis d'Économat at the Lycée. It was agreed that they should spend the
long vacation with us every year.

There are a good many days of frost in a Morvandau winter, and the snow
often remains deep on the ground for several weeks together; there was
even more than usual in 1867, so my husband devised a new amusement for
the boys by showing them how to make a giant. Every time they came home,
they rolled up huge balls of snow which were left out to be frozen hard,
then sawn into large bricks to build up the monster. The delight of the
boys may be imagined. Every new limb was greeted with enthusiastic
shouts, they thought of nothing else; and, perched on ladders, their
little hands protected by woollen gloves, they worked like slaves, and
could hardly be got to eat their meals. But how should I describe the
final scene, when in the dark evening two night-lights shone out of the
giant's eyes, and flames came out of its monstrous mouth?... It was
nothing less than wild ecstasy. Their father also taught them skating;
there was very little danger except from falls, for they began in the
meadows about the house, where they skated over shallow pools left in
the hollows by rain-water or melted snow; but when they became
proficient, we used to go to the great pond at Varolles. As my husband
has said in one of his letters, all that was very good for him.

In January, 1868, he left again for London, and felt but little
inconvenience on the way and during his stay. Knowing that I should be
anxious, he formed the habit of sending me frequent short pencil notes,
to say how he was. I give here a few of them:--

"LONDRES. _Vendredi soir_.

"J'ai été très occupé aujourd'hui au musée Britannique. Demain j'irai
voir des expositions. Je compte partir dimanche pour Paris."

"_Samedi matin._

"J'écris dans une boutique. Je vais bien. Je dîne au Palais de Cristal
avec un Club."

"_Samedi soir._

"Je vais bien. Pauvre petit Richard! embrasse-le bien pour moi; tu as dû
être bien inquiète."

This was about a serious accident which had happened to our youngest
boy. Whilst at play with his brother on the terrace, and in my presence,
he ran his head against a low wall, and was felled senseless to the
ground by the force of the blow; the temple was cut open, and his blood
ran over my arm and dress when I lifted him up, apparently lifeless. The
farmer's cart drove us rapidly to Autun, where we found our doctor in
bed--it was ten at night. The wound was dressed and sewn up, and the
pain brought back some signs of life. I asked if I ought to take a room
at the hotel to secure the doctor's attendance at short intervals, but I
was told that blows of that kind were either fatal or of little
importance; the only thing to be done was to keep ice on the head and
renew it constantly. The poor child seemed to have relapsed into an
insensible state, and remained so all night. In the early morning,
however, he awoke without fever, and was quite well in about three

I had asked my husband to take the opinion of an aurist about my
increasing deafness, and he tenderly answered:--

"Sérieusement je ne crois pas que ta surdité augmente. Avant de te
rendre compte combien tu étais sourde, tu ne savais pas quels bruits
restaient pour toi inaperçus. Maintenant tu fais de tristes découvertes;
moi qui suis mieux placé pour t'observer, puisque j'entends ce que tu
n'entends pas, je sais que tu es très sourde, mais je ne vois pas
d'augmentation depuis très longtemps et je crois que tu resteras à peu
près comme tu es. J'en ai parlé aujourd'hui avec Macmillan dont une amie
été comme toi pendant longtemps et qui éprouve maintenant une
amélioration graduelle, mais très sensible. Tâche surtout de ne pas trop
t'attrister, parce qu'il paraît que le chagrin a une tendance à
augmenter la surdité. Quant à parler d'aimer mieux mourir, tu oublies
que mon affection pour toi est bien au-dessus de toute infirmité
corporelle, et que nous aurons toujours beaucoup de bonheur à être
ensemble; du moins je parle pour moi. Et même si ta surdité augmentait
beaucoup, nous aurions toujours le moyen de communiquer ensemble en
parlant très haut: en France nous parlerions anglais, et en Angleterre,

He sympathized so much with my trouble that, unlike many other
husbands, who would have been annoyed at having to take a deaf
wife into society, he urged me to go with him everywhere, kindly
repeated what I had not heard, and explained what I misunderstood. He
always tried his best to keep away from me the feeling of solitude, so
common to those who are deprived of hearing.

Just as I was rejoicing over the thought that my husband had
prosperously accomplished this last journey, I had a letter from him,
dated "Hôtel du Nord, Amiens," in which he said he was obliged to stop
there till he felt better, for he could eat absolutely nothing, and was
very weak. The worst was that I dared not leave my poor little Richard
yet, to go to his father: the wound on the temple was not healed, and
the doctor had forbidden all excitement, for fear of brain-fever after
the shock. I was terribly perplexed when the following letter reached


"Tu apprendras avec plaisir que j'ai regagné un peu d'appétit hier
soir. J'ai mangé un dîner qui m'a fait tant de bien que ce ne serait pas
cher à une centaine de francs. Cet hôtel est très propre et la cuisine y
est faite convenablement sans mélange de sauces. Toute la journée de
lundi à Amiens, j'ai vécu d'un petit morceau de pain d'épices. Le soir à
10 h. 1/2 j'ai mangé une tranche de jambon. Je suis parti à minuit pour
Paris où je suis arrivé à 4 h. du matin. Pour ne pas me rendre plus
malade, je n'ai pas voulu rester dans la grande ville que j'ai traversée
d'une gare à l'autre immédiatement. J'ai pris une tasse de chocolat et
écrit quelques lettres en attendant le train pour Fontainebleau qui est
parti de la gare à 8 h. C'était un train demi-express, mais je l'ai bien
supporté. En arrivant à Fontainebleau je n'ai pas pu déjeuner et je n'ai
rien mangé jusqu'au soir quand j'ai bien dîné. C'est très économique de
ne pas pouvoir manger. J'ai sauté plusieurs repas, qui par conséquent ne
figurent nullement dans les notes.

"Hier soir je me suis promené un peu dans les jardins du palais qui est
lui-même vaste, mais c'est un amas de constructions lourdes et de
mauvais goût, du moins en général. Cela me fait l'effet d'une caserne
ajoutée à une petite ville. Les jardins, les arbres sont magnifiques. Je
me trouve bien ce matin, mais un peu faible par suite du peu de
nourriture que j'ai pu prendre depuis quelques jours. Enfin, je suis en
train de me refaire. Je désire vivement être chez moi, et j'y arriverai
aussitôt que possible sans me rendre malade. Embrasse pour moi les
enfants et ta mère; à toi de tout coeur."

He reached home safely, but the fatigue and weakness seemed to last
longer than previously, and insomnia frequently recurred. He did his
best to insure refreshing sleep by taking more exercise in the open air,
but it became clear that he must abandon work at night, because when his
brain had been working on some particular subject, he could not quiet it
at once by going to bed, and it went on--in spite of himself--to a state
of great cerebral excitement, during which production was rapid and
felicitous--therefore tempting; but it was paid for too dearly by the
nervous exhaustion surely following it. It was a great sacrifice on his
part, because he liked nothing better than to wait till every one had
retired and the house was all quiet and silent, to sit down to his desk
under the lamp, and write undisturbed--and without fear of
disturbance--till dawn put out the stars.

He now changed his rules, and devoted the evenings to reading.



Studies of Animals.--A Strange Visitor.--Illness at Amiens.--
Resignation of post on the "Saturday Review."--Nervous seizure in
railway train.--Mrs. Craik.--Publication of "Etching and Etchers."--
Tennyson.--Growing reputation in America.

In the course of the years 1865-67 Mr. Hamerton had made the
acquaintance of several leading French artists,--Doré, Corot, Daubigny,
Courbet, Landelle, Lalanne, Rajon, Brunet-Debaines, Flameng, Jacquemart,
etc. The etchers he frequently met at Cadart's, where they came to see
proofs of their etchings; the painters he went to see for the
preparation of his "Contemporary French Painters" and "Painting in
France." Together with these works he had begun his first novel,
"Wenderholme," and had been contemplating for some time the possibility
of lecturing on aesthetics. I was adverse to this last plan on account
of his nervous state, which did not seem to allow so great an excitement
as that of appearing in public at stated times; I persuaded him at least
to delay the realization of the project till he had quite recovered his
health, despite the invitations he had received both from England and
America. He continued to paint from nature, with the intention of
resigning his post on the "Saturday Review" in case of success, but now
devoted more of his time to the study of animals, principally oxen, as
he liked to have models at hand without leaving home.

Desiring to be thoroughly acquainted with the anatomy of the ox, he
bought one which had died at the farm, and had it boiled in parts till
the flesh was separated from the bones, which were then exposed to dry
in the sunshine. When thoroughly dried they were kept in the garret, and
successively taken to the studio to serve for a series of drawings, of
which I still possess several. As we had a goat, and sometimes kids, he
also made numerous sketches from them, as well as from ducks, sheep and
lambs, hens and chickens. There was also a Waterloo veteran who came
weekly as a model, and who was painted in a monk's dress, which my
husband used afterwards, and for a long time, as a dressing-gown.

This habit of sketching animals whenever he had a chance gave rise to
some amusing incidents before our peasant neighbors knew that he
"painted portraits of dumb beasts, as well as of Christians." Some
farmers' wives, alarmed at the sight of odd pennies in the pockets of
their offspring, accused them of pilfering, but on being told that the
"gros sous" had been given them by "le père anglais," came to our house
to ascertain how and why; for, unlike the people of the South, they
would not have tolerated begging. They were quieted by the assurance
that the money had been honestly earned by the children for holding
their goat or donkey whilst its portrait was taken; nay, they even felt
a little proud that an animal of theirs should have been thought worthy
of such an honor.

Etching in all its forms was pursued at the same time with lithography
and photography; even a new kind of transparent etching ground was
invented by Mr. Hamerton, which made it possible for etchers to see the
work already done upon a plate after having it grounded again for
correction or additional work.

A strange incident occurred during this winter. My husband's rising
reputation had, it appears, given to many people a desire for his
personal acquaintance, or for intercourse by correspondence. The first
desire brought him many unexpected visitors, the second quite an
appreciable increase of work, as he hardly ever left a letter
unanswered. To give the reader an instance of the extraordinary notions
entertained by some people, I shall relate the true history of one
visitor amongst others. Some letters at short intervals, from England,
signed--let us say--Beamish, mentioned a mysterious project which could
not possibly be explained otherwise than by word of mouth, and which
might be both profitable and agreeable to Mr. Hamerton, if realized. He
was asked to call upon the correspondent for an explanation if he should
happen to go to London soon; if not, Mr. Beamish begged leave to come
over and see him. Of course the leave was given, and the gentleman
having written that on such a day he would be at such an hotel in Autun,
Gilbert went to fetch him in the pony-carriage--for Dort-debout had
tired out our patience, and had been replaced by a beautiful and
energetic little pony called Cocote.

When we met Mr. Beamish, we found him a most prepossessing young man, of
elegant manners and refined speech; in short, a gentleman. He begged me
to allow his portmanteau to be placed in the carriage; and as I observed
that he was not expected to dress for our family dinner, he answered
that it only contained papers that he should want.

Two other friends, understanding English, joined us at dinner. The
conversation was animated, but Mr. Beamish never hinted at the
mysterious project. In the evening, engravings and etchings were shown
to our guest, but failed to excite his interest, for he soon fell asleep
on the sofa, and let our friends go without awaking. Unwilling to
disturb him, we remained till nearly one o'clock, when I decided to
retire, whatever happened afterwards; and I was so tired that after
going to bed I never awoke till morning, when I asked my husband at what
time Mr. Beamish had gone. "Gone," he answered; "why, I don't know that
he has gone at all, for I left him after three, just where he was." I
hardly dared peep into the drawing-room; however, it was empty; but when
the breakfast-bell was rung, Mr. Beamish came in unconcernedly to have
his share of the simple meal, during which he talked pleasantly and
intelligently of his experiences in India, where he had spent the
greater part of eighteen years. Nothing was said of the project, and
after vainly waiting for some mention of it, my husband returned to his
study, after letting Mr. Beamish know that he was not to be disturbed
till eleven o'clock, for it was the time of his morning work. "Very
well," answered our guest; "meanwhile I shall put my books and papers in
order." At the same time he requested me to send rather a large table
into the room where he had slept (it was the room in which his
portmanteau had been put), and to tell the servants to be careful not to
interfere in any way with what he would leave upon it, not even to dust,
_so long as he remained with us_. I then believed that Gilbert had
invited him to stay some time, but I was undeceived in the course of the
day, and told that the mysterious project had been unfolded at last, and
was a proposition that he should undertake a journey to Palestine in the
company of Mr. Beamish, to join Holman Hunt, who was painting studies in
the Holy Land. "But what made you think I was ready to undertake such a
pilgrimage?" Mr. Hamerton had asked in great astonishment. "Because I
read that you liked camping out," was the reply; "and thought also that,
being an artist, you would be glad to meet with Holman Hunt, who, like
you in the Highlands, works directly from nature. I thought, moreover,
that, as I intend to go myself, you would be agreeable and profitable

Although my husband had declined to give the slightest consideration to
this plan, Mr. Beamish still remained, and vaguely hinted that a still
more mysterious project detained him at Autun.

He went on foot, alone, to the college, on three successive afternoons,
begged to see our boys, and tipped them so generously that the principal
thought it his duty to ask their father whether he had authorized these
visits--clearly implying that he doubted the soundness of the visitor's

We had learned in the course of conversation that our guest was of a
benevolent and charitable disposition, and that he had spent much money
in India in founding hospital-beds for poor women, whose sufferings he
warmly compassionated. He was also full of sympathy for the Indian
people, and spoke of their wrongs not without a certain degree of
excitement, but still in a manner to arouse our interest. Altogether,
although he was a self-imposed guest, we had already learned to like
him, and were unwilling to remind him, with ever so little rudeness,
that he was in the way. My husband said that his conduct might be
explained by the fact that he had lived so long in India, where the
dwellings of Europeans are often at great distances from each other, and
where a visitor is always made at home and welcome; that Mr. Beamish was
only acting as he had been accustomed to do for the greater part of his
life, for he was still a young man of about thirty-six.

After about a week's stay, he began to talk of leaving us within a short
time, but did not say when--that would depend on _certain_
circumstances. However, on a bitterly cold evening, with the snow deep
on the ground, he requested to be driven to Autun, and took a friendly
leave of us all without explanation. But the principal of the college
related the following strange story to Mr. Hamerton:--

"Your friend, Mr. Beamish, whom I had met at your house, came here under
pretext of seeing your sons, but called upon me, and asked point-blank
if I would give him my help in a charitable deed of some importance.
'What is the nature of the deed?' was my first question. 'The salvation
of a soul.' 'In what form?' I did not get a direct answer, but I was
told that the idea had sprung from religious motives, and that knowing
my strong attachment to religion--though it was the Roman Catholic
religion--he hoped I should have sufficient moral courage to help him in
his deed of mercy--in fact he had resolved to reclaim a fallen woman.
Vainly did I attempt to turn him from his generous but impracticable
resolution. He threatened to act alone if I refused him the sanction of
my presence, but he hoped that the Aumônier would see his action in its
true light, and putting himself above popular suspicion, would accompany
him 'to the very den of sin to offer salvation to a lost but _repentant
sheep_.' It was useless to try to make him understand that it was
impossible for the Aumônier to risk his character, even with the hope of
doing good, and at last Mr. Beamish expressed a desire to meet him in my
presence on the morrow. Our worthy Aumônier was horrified at the idea of
the kind of sinners he would have to meet, and declined to have anything
to do with the wildly charitable scheme."

The next news was brought to Autun four days later by the woman whom
poor Mr. Beamish thought he had rescued at the cost of four hundred
francs for her liberation from debt, and about two hundred more for
decent clothing. He had taken her as far as Dijon, where he had left her
in some kind of reformatory; but after enjoying the change, and with her
purse replenished to carry her through the first difficulties of an
honest life, she hastened back to the old haunt to gibe and jeer at her

Another queer visitor was an English gentleman, past middle age, who
could never find his way back to our house, but invariably appeared at
meal-times in the dining-room of some neighbor, who had to escort him to

The opening of the Academy exhibition had come round again, and Mr.
Hamerton had to go and criticise it as usual; but after reaching Amiens,
he felt so poorly that he resolved to send his resignation to the
"Saturday Review," and to return home as quickly as he could. Here is
his letter to me:--


"Bonne chérie.--Je suis arrivé à Amiens samedi matin de bonne heure,
ayant l'intention de me reposer un peu à l'hôtel et puis de continuer
mon voyage le tantôt, mais en me levant j'ai senti que j'avais besoin
d'un repos un peu plus prolongé après les fatigues de Paris. Le plus
ennuyeux c'est que je peux à peine manger quelque chose. Comme ce manque
d'appétit m'affaiblera inévitablement s'il continue longtemps et que
l'affaiblissement amènerait probablement un mauvais état du système
nerveux, je crois que le plus sage serait de renoncer pour cette fois au
voyage en Angleterre et de revenir au Pré-Charmoy comme un faux billet
indigne de circuler. Mon intention est donc de retourner, et pour
changer je prendrai probablement la ligne de Dijon, en m'arrêtant un
jour à Sens pour voir Challard. [An artist who had copied some drawings
of Jean Cousin for the "Fine Arts Quarterly Review."]

"Comme je te l'ai promis, je fais ce qui me semble être le plus sage. Je
reviendrai le plus vite que je pourrai sans hasarder ma santé.

"J'ai loué un petit bateau hier avec lequel j'ai exploré la rivière
d'Amiens--la Somme--en haut de la ville. Il est impossible d'imaginer
rien de plus pittoresque. Il y a une grande quantité de petites maisons
et baraques au bord de l'eau et je vais prendre là le matériel d'une
eau-forte. J'espère que cette retraite n'est pas trop ridicule. Un bon
général, dit-on, se distingue tout autant dans la retraite que dans
l'avance; et comme par le fait il y a manque de vivres--puisque je ne
peux pas manger--il me semble que la prudence conseille ce que les
Américains appelaient 'un mouvement stratégique' quand ils avaient été

"AMIENS. _Lundi matin_.

"Comme je n'avais pas encore regagné d'appétit hier j'ai pensé qu'il
serait plus sage de rester ici encore un peu et je suis allé
canoter sur la rivière.

"Mr. Cook avec une grande et charmante bonté m'a fait des remontrances:
il me dit que le ton de ma lettre l'a blessé et que mes 'menaces' lui
ont fait de la peine; qu'il n'a jamais manqué de largesse envers ses
écrivains et que l'excédent de mes dépenses en livres, voyages, etc.,
sera toujours défrayé par la Revue. J'ai été réellement touché de la
manière affectueuse dont il m'a fait ses observations auxquelles il a su
joindre des compliments, en me disant que j'avais découvert la meilleure
façon de faire la revue des expositions et que mes articles sont
précisément ce qu'il lui faut. J'ai répondu que quant à la peine que
cela avait pu lui faire, je le regrettais sincèrement, mais que les
'menaces' étaient tout simplement l'expression d'une résolution très
décidément prise, et dans un moment où j'étais à la fois trop malade et
trop pressé pour procéder avec plus de formes.

"Comme ma promenade sur l'eau m'a fait du bien hier je vais la

"Ton mari, qui te reverra bientôt."

I decided at once to go to him; my mother, who had come to stay with me
during his absence, approved my resolution, and undertook the management
of the house and the care of the children: so without asking for his
leave, I wrote that I was on my way to Amiens.

His joy was great when he saw me, and his progress towards recovery was
so rapid that he abandoned the idea of retracing his steps, and
encouraged by my presence, thought he could accomplish the journey to
London without danger. It was of great importance that he should keep
his post on the "Saturday Review," because it was his only _regular_
income, everything else being uncertain; and we knew that if he could
undertake the work again it would be readily entrusted to him.

We only stayed two days at Amiens, and as my husband was never seasick
or nervous on the sea, everything went on satisfactorily so far; but as
soon as we had left Dover for London, I perceived signs of uneasiness in
his behavior. He closed his eyes not to see the moving objects we
passed; he uncovered his head, which seemed burning by the flushed face;
he chafed his cold, bloodless hands, and shuffled his feet to bring back
circulation. For a long time he attempted to hide these alarming
symptoms from me, but I had detected them from the beginning; his eyes
had a far-reaching look and unusual steely brilliancy; the expression of
his countenance was hard-set, rigid, almost defiant, as if ready to
overthrow any obstacle in his way; and indeed it was the case, for
unable to control himself any longer, he got up and told me hoarsely
that he was going to jump out of the train. I took hold of his hands,
and said I would follow; only I entreated him to wait a short time, as
we were so near a station. I placed myself quite close to the door of
the railway carriage, and stood between it and him. Happily we _were_
near a station, else I don't know what might have happened; he rushed
out of carriage and station into the fields, whilst I followed like one
dazed and almost heart-broken. After half-an-hour he lessened his pace,
and turned to me to say, "I think it is going." I could not speak for
fear of bursting into tears, but I pressed his hand in mine and held it
as we continued our miserable way across the fields. We walked perhaps
two hours, at the end of which Gilbert said tenderly, in his usual
voice: "You must be terribly tired, my poor darling; I think I could
bear to rest now; we may try to sit down." We sat down upon a fallen
tree, and after some minutes he told me that if I could get him a glass
of beer somewhere it would bring him round. I went in search of an inn
and discovered a closed one, for it was Sunday and the time of afternoon
service. Nevertheless I knocked so perseveringly that a woman came
forth, incensed by my pertinacity, and peremptorily refused with
indignation any kind of drink: to obtain a bottle of beer I had to take
an oath that it was for a patient.

The glass of ale at once calmed and revived my husband, and when the
bottle had been emptied--in the course of an hour or so--he was himself
again and felt hungry.

We did not know the place,--it was Adisham; we had no luggage, and as to
resuming our journey it was out of the question, for some time at least.
So I went again to the inn, and asked the woman if she could give us a
room. "No, there was not one ready; and then it was so suspicious,
people coming like that through the fields and without luggage." I
offered to pay in advance. "But we might be runaways." My husband had
his passport, and I explained that he had been taken ill suddenly, and
that our luggage could be sent to us from London. "If the gentleman were
to die here it would be a great trouble." I had to assure her that it
was not dangerous, and that rest only was required. At last she
consented to show me into a very clean, freshly-papered room,
deprecating volubly the absence of curtains and bedstead in such an
emergency, but promising to put them up shortly if we remained some

The bedding was laid upon the carpet; the mattresses had just undergone
a thorough cleaning, and the sheets and counterpane smelt sweet. When
night came we were thankful to rest our tired limbs even on the floor,
and to hope that sleep would bury in oblivion the anguish of the day, at
least for a while.

Oh, the weary, weary time spent there, without work, without books, and
with but little hope of better days. How should we get out of it, and
when?... It was now clear that these terrible attacks were due to
railway travelling. Then how should we ever get home again?...

Our luggage had been telegraphed for and returned, and the appearance of
the trunks had evidently inspired some confidence in our landlady.
Materially we were comfortable enough: a clean bedroom, a quiet, rather
large sitting-room (it was the usual public dining-room, but it being
early in the season, there were no boarders besides ourselves); and the
cookery, though simple and unvaried, was good of its kind,--alternately
ham and eggs, beef-steak and chops with boiled potatoes, rice pudding,
or gooseberry tart.

Morning after morning my husband wondered if he would feel equal to
resuming the journey; but the necessary self-reliance was found wanting
still. We walked out slowly and aimlessly, and we chose for our long
walks the most solitary lanes. Gilbert felt that the air, impregnated by
sea-salt, was gradually invigorating him, and after three weeks of this
melancholy existence made up his mind to order a carriage to take us as
far as Canterbury. The long drive and change did him good, and he was
well enough to take me to the Cathedral, and show me the town, where we
lingered two days, and then took another carriage for Croydon. At that
stage my husband told me that we were not far from Beckenham, and
proposed that we should call upon Mr. and Mrs. Craik on the following
day. I shall never forget the kindness of the reception nor the sympathy
of our hostess. I was surprised to see my husband enjoying conversation
and society so much, because when he was unwell he shrank from meeting
with any one, and required complete solitude; he only wished to feel
that I was near him, without fretting and in silence. But the charming
simplicity of the welcome in the garden, the peacefulness, not only of
the dwelling, but still more the calm and sweet aspect of the celebrated
authoress, together with her husband's friendly manner, acted soothingly
upon the nerves of their visitor. He told without reticence what had
happened, and soon changed the subject to fall into an animated and
interesting conversation.

After lunch Mrs. Craik made me walk in the garden with her, and inquired
more closely into the particulars of this strange illness; she
encouraged and comforted me greatly. She was tall, and though
white-haired, very beautiful still, I thought. As we walked she bent her
head (covered with the Highland blue bonnet) over mine, and as she
clasped my shoulders within her arm, I could see her hand laid upon my
breast, as if to soothe it; it was the loveliest hand I ever saw; the
shape so perfect, the skin so white and soft. We spoke French together;
she was interested about France, and liked talking of its people and
customs. Before we left she asked me to write to her, and offered to
render me any service I might require.

The journey to Todmorden was not to be thought of this time, and Gilbert
had begged his uncle and aunt to meet us at Kew, if they could manage
it. They answered in the affirmative, and he found lodgings for them,
not far from ours, nearly opposite to the church.

Knowing that his book must now be ready, he longed to see a copy of it,
and feeling well enough one morning, he started with me for London; but
as soon as we were in the heart of the town, its bustle, crowd, and
noise drove my husband to the comparative peace of the nearest park.
There, as usual in such cases, we had to walk till his nerves were
calmed, and then to sit down for a long time. He did not think he would
be equal to the busy streets that day, and asked me to take a cab and
see if I could bring him back a copy of his book. Reluctantly I left
him, though he assured me the attack was over; only he was afraid of
bringing it on again if he went into the street. So I was driven to Mr.
Macmillan's house of business, and immediately received by him. He was
evidently truly sorry to hear that my husband was unwell, and "Etching
and Etchers" being upon his table, he took up a copy, and with many warm
praises insisted upon placing it himself in my cab. The book was
everything that its author had desired, and taken so much pains to
ensure; he was gratified by the result, and gratefully acknowledged the
liberality of the publishers. One of the first visits paid by Mr.
Hamerton when he felt well again was to Mr. Cook, of the "Saturday
Review," who was himself out of health through overwork. He feelingly
expressed his regret that my husband could not continue to act as
regular art critic, but trusted that he would still contribute to the
"Saturday" as much as possible, and on subjects he might himself select.

Next we saw Mr. Seymour Haden, and I begged him to try and discover what
was the nature of my husband's ailment.

It was no easy matter, as the patient refused to submit to examination
and to prescriptions of any kind. Mrs. Haden, who was full of sympathy
and kindness, apprised her husband of this peculiarity and he undertook
to _passer-outre_. So the next time we called by invitation, he looked
steadily at his guest for some time, and said to him deliberately: "You
are _very_ ill; it's no use denying it to me; you must give up all
work,--not in a month, or a week, or to-morrow, but to-day, instantly."
My husband flushed, so that I trembled in fear of another seizure, and
answered angrily: "I cannot give up work; I _must_ work for my family; I
shall try to work less." ... "I say you are to give up all mental labor
immediately; I shall see, later, what amount of intellectual work you
are able to bear, according to the state you will be in. You may break
stones on the road, but I forbid you to hold a pen for literary
composition; and once back home, you must renounce railway travelling as
long as it produces uncomfortable sensations." All this was said
imperatively, and although it drove my husband almost to desperation, I
thanked Mr. Haden in my heart for his courageous and timely
interference, and Gilbert did the same after recovering from the shock.

This time he did not feel either so sad or so despondent as formerly,
when he had suffered alone; he knew now for certain that the causes of
his trouble were overwork and railway travelling, and he took the
resolution of avoiding both dangers as much as possible. Whenever he
felt nervous we remained quietly at Kew, reading or sketching or walking
in solitary places with his uncle and aunt, and when he thought himself
well enough we went to London by boat or omnibus, to the British Museum,
the National Gallery, or South Kensington Museum, and to the public or
private art exhibitions. We also paid calls, and on one of these
occasions I was introduced to George Eliot and to Mr. Lewes; the latter
sat by us on a sofa outside of the inner circle (the room was full), and
talked with wonderful vivacity and great discrimination of the state of
French literature. He judged of it like a Frenchman; his conversation
was extremely interesting and suggestive, and he appeared to derive
great pleasure from a rapid exchange of thoughts. Undeniably he was very
plain, when you had time to think of it, but it was with him as with the
celebrated advocate, M. Crémieux,--so much caricatured,--neither of
them seemed at all plain to me as soon as they spoke; both had
expressive eyes and countenance, and the interest awakened by the
varying expression of the features did not allow one to think of their
want of symmetry and shape.

The person who sat next to George Eliot seemed determined to monopolize
her attention; but as a new-comer was announced she came forward to meet
him, and kindly taking me by the hand, made me sit in the chair she had
herself occupied, and motioned to my husband to come also. He remained
standing inside the circle, whilst the Monopolizer had, at once, to
yield his seat to the mistress of the house, as well as a share of her
conversation to others than himself.

I immediately recognized the description given of her by my husband; her
face expressed at the same time great mental power and a sort of
melancholy human sympathy; her voice was full-toned, though low, and
wonderfully modulated. We were frequently interrupted by people just
coming in, and with each and all she exchanged a few phrases appropriate
to the position, pursuit, or character of her interlocutor, immediately
to revert to the subject of our conversation with the utmost apparent
ease and pleasure.

Mr. Lewes offered tea himself, because the worshippers surrounded the
Idol so closely that they kept her a prisoner within a double circle,
and they were so eager for a few words from her lips that as soon as she
moved a step or two they crowded about her in a way to make me think
that, in a small way and in her own drawing-room, she was mobbed like a
queen at some public ceremony.

The next time we called upon George Eliot she had heard of our meeting
with Mr. Tennyson, and said,--

"So you have seen the great man--and did he talk?"

"Talk?" answered my husband; "he talked the whole time, and was in high

"Then you were most fortunate."

We understood what was implied, for Mr. Tennyson had the reputation of
not being always gracious. However, we had learned from himself that
nothing short of rudeness could keep his intrusive admirers at a
distance, so as to allow him some privacy. He told us of a man who so
dogged his steps that he was afraid of going out of his own garden
gates, for even in front of those locked gates the man would stand and
pry for hours together, till the poet's son was sent to him with a
request that he would go elsewhere.

In the case of his meeting with Mr. Hamerton it was totally different,
for he had himself expressed a wish for it to Mr. Woolner. Of course my
husband was greatly flattered when he heard of it, and readily accepted
an invitation to lunch with Mr. Woolner's family, and to meet the poet
whom he so much admired. I sat by Mr. Tennyson, and endeavored to
suppress any outward sign of the interest and admiration so distasteful
to him. Nevertheless, I was greatly impressed by the dignity of his
simple manners and by the inscrutable expression of the eyes, so keen
and yet so calm, so profound yet so serene. His was a fine and noble
face, even in merriment, and he was very merry on that day, for the
string of humorous anecdotes he told kept us all laughing, himself
included. I am sorry now not to remember them, the more so as they
generally concerned himself. Several were connected with his title of
"Lord of the Manor," but the only one I can remember in its entirety is
the following, because he was addressing himself to me--a
Frenchwoman--the scene of the story being the Hôtel du Louvre, in Paris.

Mr. Tennyson began by remarking that there were a good many stories
current about him; some of them were true, but most of them apocryphal.

"And is the one you are going to relate true?" I asked.

He smiled, and answered:--

"I think it is capital; you will have to guess. I had occasion to go to
Paris with a friend who was supposed to speak French creditably, and
who fancied himself a master of it. On the morning following our arrival
in the French capital, being somewhat knocked up by the journey, we had
a late breakfast at a small side-table of the dining-room, of which we
were soon the only occupants, under the watchful and, as I thought,
suspicious eyes of a waiter, whose attention had probably been attracted
by the conspicuous difference between our stature and garb from that of
his little dandified countrymen. Having caught a slight cold on the
passage, I felt more inclined to stay by the fire with a newspaper than
to go out, and did so, whilst my friend, who had some business in the
town, left me for some time. As I drew my chair up to the hearth I heard
the waiter answering with alacrity to some recommendation of my
friend's, 'Oh, monsieur peut être tranquille, j'y veillerai.' I thought
it was some order about our dinner, and resumed my political studies.
Was it my cold which made me dull and inattentive? It is quite possible,
for my eyes kept wandering from my paper, and, strange to say, always
met those of the French waiter riveted upon me. At first I felt annoyed:
what could be so strange about my person? Then I was irritated, for
though that queer little man was making some pretence at dusting or
replacing chairs, still his eyes never left me for a moment, and at
last, being somewhat drowsy, I had the sensation that one experiences in
a nightmare, and thought I had better resort to my room and make up for
a shortened night. No sooner, however, had I got up from my chair than
the waiter was entreating me to remain, offering to heap coals on the
fire, to bring me another paper or a pillow if I was tired, and 'Did I
wish to write a letter? he would fetch instantly what was required; or
should I like something hot for my cold?' His voice had the strange
coaxing tone that we use to pacify children, and made me stare; but I
answered angrily that I only wanted a nap, and to be let alone, and I
made for the door in spite of his objurgations. Then he ran in front of
me, and barring the door with arms outstretched, besought me to await my
friend. This unaccountable behavior had rendered me furious, and now I
was determined to force my way out, despite the mad resistance and loud
gibberish of the waiter, and I began to use my fists. It was in the
midst of this tremendous row that my astonished friend re-appeared in
the dining-room, and was greeted with this exclamation from my
adversary: 'Ah, monsieur, vous voyez, j'ai tenu ma parole: je ne l'ai
pas laissé sortir _le fou;_ mais ça n'a pas été sans peine, il était
temps que vous arriviez.'

"It turned out that my friend, anxious for my comfort, and noticing that
the fire was getting low, had said in his easy French before leaving,
'Garçon, surtout ne laissez pas sortir le fou' (_feu_)--meaning 'Don't
let the fire go out,' and the intelligent foreigner had immediately
guessed from my appearance that I was _le fou_."

Amidst general laughter I said,--

"It is cleverly invented."

"I see you do not believe it," Mr. Tennyson answered; "yet it has passed
current in society and in the newspapers."

Sitting close to Mr. Tennyson, as I did, I noticed the large size, and
somehow plebeian shape, of his hands. They did not seem to belong to the
same body as the head, indicating merely physical strength and fitness
for physical labor. His dress also struck me as peculiar: he was wearing
a shirt of coarse linen, starchless, with a large and loose turned-down
collar, very like a farmer's of former days, and shirt and hands looked
suited to each other. After remarking this I happened to look up into
Mr. Tennyson's face, which then wore its habitual expression of serious
and grand simplicity; and I thought that the rough and dull linen, with
the natural, unstiffened fall about the neck, formed a most artistic
sculpturesque setting for the handsome head well poised above it.

After lunch Mr. Woolner took the gentlemen to his studio for a smoke,
and my husband told me afterwards that Mr. Tennyson had continued as
talkative there as he had been at lunch, and was only interrupted by the
entrance of Sir Bartle Frere, who had a great deal to say on his own

It was very gratifying to me to notice that whenever my husband met with
celebrities he was treated by them on a footing of equality, and
although still a young man, his opinions and views were always accepted
or discussed with evident respect, even by his seniors. His presence
invariably awoke interest and confidence, and in most cases sympathy. It
was felt that he was one of the few to be looked up to, and I have heard
people much older than himself tell me that they prized highly a private
hour spent with him, because his influence made them feel more desirous
of striving for noble aims and elevated thoughts which seemed so natural
and easy to him. It is true, indeed, that whatever he thought, said, or
did, bore the stamp of genuine uprightness, for his nature was so much
above meanness of any kind that he had great difficulty in admitting it
in others; whenever he met with it his first attitude was one of
charitable hesitation, but when he recognized it unmistakably his
indignation was as unbounded and unrestrained as in cases of cruelty.

In spite of the impediment to social intercourse caused by his
intermittent nervous state, Mr. Hamerton enjoyed rather a large share of
cultivated and intelligent society at this time. His worst moments
happened in the morning and in bright sunshine; the evening was in
general entirely free from disagreeable sensations, and a rainy day or
clouded sky most favorable. This peculiarity enabled him to accept
invitations to dinners, at which he met the persons whose acquaintance
he cared for.

Mr. Thomas Hamerton and his sister had left us at Kew to go back home,
and we wished it were as simple for us to do the same, but we could only
think of the journey with the saddest forebodings; yet we longed to be
through it, and safely restored to our peaceful rustic life and to a
sight of our children.

It was a very tedious, trying, and harassing journey; we travelled only
at night, by the slowest trains, and went but short distances at a time.
Sometimes my husband was unable to proceed for a few days; but, with
admirable courage and resolution, he managed to reach the much-desired

And now what was to be done? Mr. Haden allowed literary work only on two
consecutive days in the week, and when Gilbert was unwell on those days,
there was no remunerative production, and his anxieties became almost
intolerable. He resolved to try every day of the week if he were fit for
work, and to go on whenever he felt suitably disposed till the two days'
work had been done, and then to leave off till the next week. This
succeeded for a while, but as he naturally became anxious to produce as
much as possible during these two days, he felt driven, and suffered in
consequence. He then attempted to devote only two hours to literary
composition at a sitting, and to repeat the attempt twice a day when he
did not feel his powers overtaxed. To this new rule he adhered till the
end of his life--at least, generally speaking, for in some circumstances
he had to write throughout the day, but he was careful to avoid this
extremity as much as possible.

We waited impatiently for news of the reception of "Etching and Etchers"
by the public, and Mrs. Craik having been so kind as to offer any
service she could render, I wrote to her on the subject, and she

"BECKENHAM. _July_ 19, 1868.

"My dear Mrs. Hamerton,--I can quite understand how _you_ care about the
book--perhaps more than your husband even, and I wish I could send you
news of it. But there have been no reviews as yet, and this being the
dull time of year, the sale is slow. Whatever reviews come out you shall
have without fail from the firm. It is so valuable and charming a book
that I do hope it may gradually make its way. I do believe it is only
the dreadful cities which make your husband ill--and no wonder; in
peaceful Autun he will flourish, I trust; and you too recover yourself,
for I am sure you were very far from well when you were here. It was so
kind of you to come to us that Sunday, and to believe that we are both
people who really mean what we say--and say what we think: which all the
world does not. If ever I can do anything for you, pray write. And some
day in future ages I shall write to you to ask advice upon our little
tour in unknown French towns and country, when we shall certainly drop
upon Autun _en route_. Not this year, however.

"With very kind remembrance to you both, believe me, dear Mrs. Hamerton,

"Yours sincerely,

"D. M. Craik."

My sister, Caroline Pelletier, had now come to Pré-Charmoy with her
baby-daughter, to escape from the drought prevailing at Algiers, and her
presence was a great pleasure to my recluse. She often read to him to
keep up her English, and accompanied him in his drives when I was
prevented, aware that he did not much like to venture away alone since
he had been ill. At his request she had brought an Algerian necklace and
bracelets made of hardened paste of roses, which were intended for Aunt
Susan, who had greatly liked the odor of mine, and who acknowledged the
little present in a very cordial letter.

My younger brother Frédéric was at that moment very ill with typhoid
fever, and I had asked my husband to let me go to help my mother in
nursing him; however, with greater wisdom and firmness he refused his
leave, and made me understand my duty to our children. "If you brought
back to them the germs of disease, and if they died of it, you never
would forgive yourself," he said. But after the fatal ending he allowed
me to attend the funeral, on condition that I should not enter the
house, but come back directly after the painful duty was accomplished.
At the same time, he kindly invited my mother to come to us, after
taking all necessary precautions against the danger of bringing
infection to her grandchildren.

The society of M. Pelletier, who used to follow his wife to Pré-Charmoy
as soon as he was free, proved quite a boon to Gilbert in his solitude,
and a solid friendship was soon formed between the two brothers-in-law.
M. Pelletier's mind was inquisitive and receptive; he had read much, and
in the family circle we called him our "Encyclopedia." He made it his
duty and pleasure to clear up any obscure point which might embarrass
any of us, and often undertook long researches to spare my husband's
time. They regularly sat up together long after the other inmates of the
house had gone to their rest, talking and smoking, or walking out in the
refreshing breeze of the summer night.

My brother Charles also joined us at times, and, being a capital
swimmer, taught his nephews all sorts of wonderful aquatic feats. We all
went daily to the pond at Varolles, and though the men and boys were all
proficient in swimming, Charles astonished them by taking a header,
preceded by a double somersault, from the top of the wall, and kindling
thereby a jealous desire to rival him, so that in a very short time my
husband, who hitherto had remained but an indifferent performer, now
trod the water, read aloud, or smoked in it, with the greatest ease. It
was very good exercise for him.

For some time past Mr. Hamerton's reputation had been growing in
America, but he did not derive the slightest profit from the sale of his
books there till Messrs. Roberts Brothers, of Boston, proposed to pay
him a royalty upon the works that should be published by them in advance
of pirated editions. This offer was accepted with pleasure and
gratitude, and the pecuniary result, though not very important, proved a
timely help. Moreover, Roberts Brothers admired Mr. Hamerton's talent,
and in very flattering terms acknowledged it, besides doing much for the
spread of his reputation in America.

In the autumn, bad news of Aunt Susan's health reached Pré-Charmoy. The
reports soon became alarming, and her nephew was made very miserable by
the impossibility of going to her bedside. When we had taken leave of
each other at Kew, she was very despondent on account of my husband's
illness, and expressed a fear that she might die without our being near
her. No one could say when the taboo on railway travelling could be
withdrawn for him, but I gave our aunt a solemn promise that in such an
emergency as she mentioned, I at any rate would go to her when she
called me, and Gilbert had ratified the engagement. From her letters it
was easy to see that she wished very much for my companionship and
nursing, being very low in spirits and feeble in body, yet she was
reluctant to ask, with the knowledge that her nephew also frequently
required my care. At last we agreed that the proposal should come from
us, my husband, as usual, sacrificing his own comfort to the claims of
affection. The offer was gratefully accepted.

As I had never travelled much alone, and am entirely destitute of the
gift of topography, it was not without misgivings that my husband saw me
off; but he had taken the trouble of writing down for my guidance the
minutest directions, and though he told his uncle that he should not be
astonished to hear that I had turned up in New York, I reached London

He was very lonely at Pré-Charmoy, with only his little girl and a maid,
the boys being at college, but he frequently went to dine there with the
principal, M. Schmitt, from whom he needed no invitation, and who always
made him welcome. He was also cheered by my letters, which told him of
his aunt's rapid improvement in health and strength. We went out
together upon the hills as often as the weather allowed, and when
threatened with an attack of nervous dizziness--which she dreaded
unspeakably--she derived confidence from my apparent composure, and
tided over it when I firmly grasped her round the waist, and made her
take a few steps in the keener and purer air of the garden. When our
aunt was restored to her usual state of health, rather more than a month
after my arrival, I took leave of my kind relatives loaded with presents
for every one of the children, and even for their parents. Of course I
wished to spend Christmas at home, and I arrived just in time to realize
my wish. Gilbert had come to meet me at the station, and as soon as we
had exchanged greetings and news he began to tell of a plan for an
artistic periodical which had mainly occupied his thoughts during my
absence. As we were driving home he entered into all the details of the
scheme as he conceived it, and said he believed he might undertake the
management of such a periodical, even where he was situated, if Mr.
Seeley gave his valuable help. He was full of the idea, and his thoughts
were continually reverting to it.



"Wenderholme."--The Mont Bouvray,--Botanical Studies--La Tuilerie.
--Commencement of the "Portfolio."--The Franco-German War.

The uncertainty of finding sufficient literary work after the
resignation of his post on the "Saturday Review" had been a cause of
great anxiety to Mr. Hamerton, though he had enough on hand at that
time, but he wondered very much if it would last. He wrote for the
"Globe" regularly; for the "Saturday Review," "Pall Mall Gazette," and
"Atlantic Monthly" occasionally, though he had a great dislike for
anonymous writing, as he bestowed as much care and labor upon it as if
it could have added to his reputation. He worked with greater pleasure
and some anticipation of success at his novel of "Wenderholme," the
first volume of which had been sent to Mr. Blackwood, who agreed to give
£200 for the copyright. Here are some passages from his letter, which of
course was very welcome. After a few criticisms:--

"The narrative is natural and taking. Your description of the drunken
habits of Shayton are _excellent_, and not a bit overdone. It reminds me
of a joke of Aytoun's when there was a report of an earthquake at a
village in Scotland notorious for its convivial habits. He remarked,
'Nonsense; the whole inhabitants are in a chronic state of D. T. that
would have shaken down the walls of Jericho.'

"The picture of poor Isaac's struggles and his final break-down at his
own home is very well done, and so is that of his old mother, with her
narrow fat forehead.

"I particularly like Colonel Stanburne. He _is_ like a gentleman, and I
hope he has a great deal to do in the remaining part of the story.
Little Jacob is very nice, and promises to make a good hero.

"The style is throughout pleasant and graceful. I shall look anxiously
for vols. 2 and 3, but I feel confident that you will not write anything
unkind or inconsistent with good taste."

Encouraged by the favorable opinion of Mr. Blackwood, the author went on
as diligently with the novel as his health allowed. From time to time I
find in his diary, "too unwell to work," or "obliged to rest," or "not
well enough to write." Still, he was remarkably free from bodily pain,
as it is generally felt and understood; he never complained of aches or
sickness, and to any ordinary observer he looked vigorous and unusually
healthy; but from me, accustomed to scrutinize the most transient
expression of his face and countenance, he could not hide the slightest
symptoms of nervousness, were it merely the bending forward of the body,
the steady gaze or unwonted cold brightness of the eyes. Whenever I
detected any of these threatening signs at home, I begged him to leave
work and to go out, and if we happened to be in an exhibition or any
crowded place, we had to resort to some secluded spot in a public
garden--to the parks if we were in London; and I believe it must be on
account of the repeated anguish I suffered there that I never wished to
visit them for my pleasure: those horribly painful hours have deprived
them of all charm for me. What my husband had to bear was a terrible
apprehension of something fearful,--he did not know what,--now
increasing, as if a fatal end were inevitable; now decreasing, only to
return--ah! how many times?--till sometimes only after hours of strife,
and sometimes suddenly, it left him calm but always weakened. At the
very time that he was most frequently subject to these attacks, the
American papers were giving numerous notices of his works, and brief
biographies in which he was invariably presented to the public as an
athlete in possession of the most robust health.

The doctors agreed in saying that this disorder was only nervous, and
not the result of any known disease; that the only remedy lay in rest
for the brain, and active exercise for the body in the open air. But it
was indeed difficult to give rest to a mind incessantly thirsting for
knowledge, and finding an inexhaustible mine of interest in the most
trivial events, in the simplest natures and the monotonous existence of
the rustics, as well as in the philosophy of Auguste Comte and John
Stuart Mill, or in the aesthetics of Ruskin and Charles Blanc. It was a
mind which turned all that came in its way into the gold of knowledge,
and which spent it generously afterwards, not only in his writings, but
in familiar conversations; his friends used to say that they always
gained something when with him, on account of the natural elevation of
mind which made him treat all questions intellectually. He had no taste
for sport or amusements or games, with the exception of boating and
chess; but chess-playing can hardly be called mental rest, and boating
is not always practicable, requiring several hours each time it is
indulged in, particularly when one is not close to a lake or river.

Riding Cocote was a pleasant relaxation to her master, as she was a
spirited little creature, and the two often went together to the Mont
Beuvray (the site of the ancient Bibracte of the Gauls), to find the
learned and venerable President of the Société Eduenne busy with his
researches among the ruins, but nevertheless always ready to receive
them hospitably. The use of one of his huts was given to his young
friend, and his four-footed companion was turned loose to browse on the
fine, short grass which grew thickly under the shade of the noble oaks
and chestnut trees of the mountain.

On these occasions, a valise containing sketching material and books was
strapped on behind the rider, on the horse's back; at other times, when
I accompanied my husband, we went in a light cart, which was left with
Cocote at a farmhouse about half-way up the hill.

My husband liked me to read to him whilst he sketched, and I see by his
diary of 1869 that some of the works he listened to in the course of
that year were: "Les Couleuvres," by Louis Veuillot; Victor Jacquemond's
"Voyage en Italie;" "l'Art en Hollande," and "La Littérature Anglaise,"
by Taine "Le Postscriptum;" George Eliot's "Silas Marner;" Sidney
Colvin's "Academy Notes;" Tennyson's "In Memoriam;" Légouvé's "l'Art de
la lecture;" "Chateaubriand et son groupe littéraire," "Béranger et de
Sénancourt," by Sainte-Beuve, whose talent as a critic he greatly

The rambles and drives which he took in quest of picturesque subjects
inclined him to botanical studies, and he began to form a herbarium; the
search for plants gave a zest to the long walks recommended by the
doctors, which might have become tedious had they been aimless. The
prettiest or most remarkable of these plants were sketched or painted
before being dried, to be used in the foregrounds of pictures. Gilbert's
mind was also inventive; the reader may have remarked in the
autobiography that he had made various models of double-boats, the
principle of which he wished to see more generally adopted on account of
their safety; but in 1869 it was not with boats that this faculty of
invention was busy,--it was with a plan for a carriage which would meet
our requirements. The little donkey-cart was so rickety now that it had
become unsafe, and the carriage-builders could not show anything
sufficiently convenient of a size and weight to suit Cocote. The elegant
curves above the fore-wheels reduced the stowage room to a mere nothing,
and we required plenty of space to carry, safely protected from rain and
dust, many things--amongst them change of garments when we went to Autun
for a wedding, a funeral, or a soirée, and plenty of wraps for the drive
back in the cold or mist of midnight. A good deal of room was also
wanted for the provisions regularly fetched from the town,--grocery,
ironmongery, etc. My husband succeeded in contriving a carriage
perfectly answering our wants: it was four-wheeled, and provided with a
double seat covering a roomy well; there was also a considerable space
behind to receive bundles and parcels, or at will a small removable
seat. Six persons could thus ride comfortably in the carriage, and as we
were expecting a visit from Mr. T. Hamerton and his sister, we wished
very much to have it ready for their use.

With the tender thoughtfulness which characterized my husband, he had
contrived a low step and a door at the back part of the carriage to
allow an aged person, like his aunt or my mother, to get inside with
ease and safety, and to get out quite as easily in case of danger.

They arrived in the middle of July, and spent a month with us. They were
both in very good health, and Aunt Susan, in spite of her seventy years,
rivalled her little grand-niece with the skipping-rope. She wrote
afterwards from West Lodge on August 20:--

"MY DEAR NEPHEW AND NIECE,--We arrived at home all safe and well at five
o'clock on Monday to tea, and to-day it is a week since we left your
most kind and hospitable entertainment, and I can assure you a most
true, heartfelt pleasure and gratification it has been to me to spend a
month with you, for which you must accept our best thanks for your
kindly studied attentions and exertions to make our visit pleasant. I am
sure I am much better for my journey; I feel strong and more vigorous;
the drives in the little carriage were no doubt the very thing that
would conduce to my getting strong, as I had then fresh air and exercise
without fatigue. [There follows a description of the journey, according
to a careful itinerary prepared by her nephew.] How is little Lala, lal,
a, lala? [her little niece, who was always singing]. We often talk of
her interesting ways and doings, and I often wish I could give other
English lessons to my nephews. I think we should have made some
progress, as both sides seemed interested in their business."

Shortly after the departure of his relatives, Mr. Hamerton was informed
by his landlord that he would have to leave the little house and garden
and stream he liked so well, because it was now the intention of the
proprietor to come to it with his family to spend the vacations. He was
offered, instead, another house on the same estate, called "La
Tuilerie," larger and more convenient, but a thoroughly _banale maison
bourgeoise_, devoid of charm and picturesqueness, close to the main
road, and without a garden; moreover, in an inconceivable state of
dirtiness and dilapidation. I felt horror-struck at the notion of
removing to such a place; however, I was at last obliged to submit to
fate. My husband, though very disinclined to a move, thought that since
it could not be avoided, it was as well to make it as easy, cheap, and
rapid as possible. He could not afford to lose time, and his health
prohibited long travels in search of a new abode, since he could not
make use of railways. We went as far in the neighborhood of Pré-Charmoy
as Cocote could take us in a day in different directions, but found
nothing suitable, probably because we did not wish to be at a distance
from the college, which would prevent the boys from coming home as they
had been accustomed to do.

The greater space and conveniences offered at La Tuilerie were a
temptation to my husband. We had, besides two entrances, a large
dining-room, drawing-room, kitchen, six bedrooms, lots of closets,
cupboards, dressing-rooms, and an immense garret all over the first
floor, well lighted by two windows, and paved with bricks. In the
extensive courtyard was a set of out-buildings, consisting of a
gardener's cottage, cartshed, and stable for six horses; and as on the
ground belonging to the house there had formerly existed a tile-kiln
(_tuilerie_) with drying sheds, there was ample space for a garden after
removing the rubbish which still covered it.

The fact is that circumstances allowed of no choice, and we had to
resign ourselves to the inevitable. Gilbert saw at once that with a
certain outlay and a great deal of ingenuity he could make La Tuilerie
not only tolerable, but even convenient and pleasant--though I doubted
it--and he explained how the outbuilding might be used as laundry,
laboratory, and carpenter's shop--there being three rooms of different
sizes in it; and what a gain it would be so to have all the dirty work
done outside the house. Another attraction was the good views from all
the windows; that of the Beuvray, with the plain leading to it; the
amphitheatre of Autun, with the intervening wood of noble trees, and
beyond it the temple of Janus; the range of the Morvan hills, the fields
of golden wheat and waving corn, and the pastures which looked like
mysterious lakes in the moonlight when the white mist rose from the
marshes and spread all over their surface--endlessly as it seemed. He
promised me to plan out a garden, and there being several fine trees
about the kiln and on the border of the road--oaks, elders, elms, and
spindle trees--he said he would contrive to keep them all, so as to have
shade from the beginning, and to give the new garden an appearance of
respectable antiquity.

The workmen were set at once to their task of repairing, painting, and
papering, and though my husband deprecated both the time spent on
supervision and the unavoidable expense (for the landlord, under pretext
that the rent was low, refused to contribute to the repairs, which he
called _améliorations_), was unmistakably elated by the prospect of
having the use of a more spacious dwelling; for he very easily suffered
from a feeling of confinement, and tried to get rid of it by having two
small huts which could be moved about to different parts of the estate
according to his convenience, and to which he resorted when so inclined.
Even when they were not used, it was for him a satisfaction to know that
he had in readiness a refuge away from the house whenever he chose to
seek it. This dislike to confinement was betrayed unconsciously when he
sat down to his meals by his first movement, which pushed aside whatever
seemed _too near_ his plate--glass, wine-bottle, salt-cellars, etc. I
remember that he would not use the public baths in France, because the
cabins are small and generally locked on the outside. It was therefore a
great pleasure to devise stands and cupboards and shelves in the large
room which was to be his laboratory, and which he adorned with a cheap
frieze of white paper with gilt edges, and "Lose no Time" in
black-and-red letters, repeated upon each of the four walls, so as not
to escape notice whichever way you turned.

The carpenter's shop also had its due share of attention, and was well
provided with labelled boxes of all dimensions for nails, screws, etc.,
whilst a roomy closet, opening into the studio, was fitted up with a
piece of furniture specially designed to receive the different-sized
portfolios containing engravings, etchings, and studies of all kinds,
together with a lot of pigeon-holes to keep small things separate and in
order. All this was done at home, under his direction, and he has let
his readers into the secret of his taste when he wrote in "Wenderholme":
"For the present we must leave him (Captain Eureton) in the tranquil
happiness of devising desks and pigeon-holes with Mr. Bettison, an
intelligent joiner at Sooty thorn, _than which few occupations can be
more delightful._" About the pigeon-holes, a friend of my husband once
made a discovery which he declared astounding. "I well knew that Mr.
Hamerton was a model of order," he said to me; "but I only knew to what
extent when, having to seek for string, I was directed to these
pigeon-holes. I easily found the one labelled 'String,' but what it
contained was too coarse for my purpose. 'Look above,' said Mr.
Hamerton. I did, and sure enough I saw another label with 'String
(thin).' I thought it wonderful."

Yes, Gilbert _loved_ order, and strove to keep it; but as it generally
happened that he had to do many things in a hurry (catching the post,
for instance), he could not always find time to replace what he had
used. When this had gone on so as to produce real disorder, he gave a
day to restoring each item to its proper place--this happened generally
after a long search for a mislaid paper, the finding of which evoked the
oft-repeated confession, "I love Order better than she loves me, as
Byron said of Wisdom."

The correspondence relating to the foundation of the "Portfolio" was now
very heavy; everything had to be decided between Mr. Seeley and Mr.
Hamerton; suitable contributors had to be found, subjects discussed,
illustrations chosen. The only English art magazine of that day confined
its illustrations to line engravings and woodcuts, and its plates were
almost always engraved from pictures or statues. It was intended that
the "Portfolio" should make use of all new methods of illustration, and
should publish drawings and studies as well as finished works. But it
was the dearest wish of the editor that the revived art of Etching
should receive due appreciation in England, and that, with this object,
etched plates should be made a feature of the new magazine.

The contents of the first volume will best show the plan, which was
quite unlike that of any existing periodical. A series of articles on
"English Artists of the Present Day" was contributed by Mr. Sidney
Colvin, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, Mr. Tom Taylor, Mr. Beavington Atkinson, and
the editor. These were illustrated by drawings most willingly lent by
Mr. G. F. Watts, Mr. Poynter, Sir E. Burne-Jones, Mr. Calderon, Mr. H.
S. Marks, Mr. G. D. Leslie, and other painters; and by paintings by Lord
Leighton, Mr. Armitage, and Mr. A. P. Newton. The reproductions were
made by the autotype (or carbon) process of photography, which was then
coming into high estimation as a means of making permanent copies of
works by the great masters. Every copy of these illustrations was
printed by light, a process only possible in the infancy of a magazine
which could count at first on the interest of but a small circle, and
had to form its own public. The editor contributed a series of papers,
entitled "The Unknown River," illustrated by small etchings by his own
hand. These were printed on India paper, and mounted in the text,
another process only possible in a magazine addressed to a few. The
first volume also contained a very fine etching by M. Legros, and others
by Cucinotta and Grenaud. Articles were contributed by Mr. F. T.
Palgrave, Mr. Watkiss Lloyd, Mr. G. A. Simcox, and Mrs. Mark Pattison
(Lady Dilke). A paper on "A New Palette" of nine colors was the
forerunner of the elaborate "Technical Notes" of later years. The
imposing size of the new magazine, its bold type, fine, thick paper, and
wide margins were much admired, and prepared the way for the many
editions _de luxe_ issued in England in the next quarter of the century.

In the second year the slow autotype process had to be abandoned for the
quicker Woodburytype, by which were reproduced drawings kindly
contributed by Sir J. E. Millais, Sir John Gilbert, Mr. Holman Hunt, Mr.
Woolner, Mr. G. Mason, Mr. Hook, and others. The editor commenced a
series of "Chapters on Animals," illustrated with etchings by Veyrassat.
Other etchings by M. Martial, Mr. Chattock, Mr. J. P. Heseltine, and Mr.
Lumsden Propert appeared. Mr. Basil Champneys, Mr. W. B. Scott, and Mr.
F. G. Stephens contributed articles.

In the third year a series of "Examples of Modern Etching" was made the
chief feature. It included plates by M. L. Flameng, Sir F. Seymour
Haden, M. Legros, M. Bracquemond, M. Lalanne, M. Rajon, M. Veyrassat,
and Mr. S. Palmer. The editor wrote a note upon each, and had now the
pleasure of seeing one of his objects accomplished, and the public
appreciation of his favorite art extending every day.

In subsequent years the various methods of photo-engraving were employed
instead of the carbon processes of photography, and the "Portfolio" was
one of the first English periodicals to give reproductions of

Several of M. Amand-Durand's admirable facsimiles of etchings and
engravings by the old masters adorned its pages. In 1873 appeared one of
Mr. R. L. Stevenson's first contributions to literature,--if not his
first,--a paper on "Roads," signed "L. S. Stoneven." This was followed
by other articles in the years 1874, 1875, and 1878, bearing his own

The fear of running short of work was not realized; on the contrary, my
husband had always too much on his hands; for he dreaded hurry, and
would have liked to bestow upon each of his works as much time as he
thought necessary, not only for its completion, but also for its
preparation, and that was often considerable, because he could not
slight a thing. When he was writing for the "Globe" he polished his
articles as much as a book destined to last; he always respected his
work, and the care given to it bore no relation to the price it was to
fetch. He often expressed a wish that he might labor like the monks in
the Middle Ages, without being disturbed by mercenary considerations;
that simple shelter, food, and raiment should be provided for himself
and for those dependent upon him--he did not foresee any other wants--so
that he might devote the whole of his mental energy to subjects worthy
of it. But I used to answer that if he had such liberty he never would
publish anything; for whenever he sent MS. to the printer it was
inevitably with regret at not being able to keep it longer for
improvement. Still, the second volume of "Wenderholme" had been sent to
Mr. Blackwood, who wrote on Sept. 24, 1869:--

"There is no doubt that I liked vol. 2 very much. The story is told in a
simple, matter-of-fact way, which is very effective, by giving an air of
truth to the narrative.

"The fire and the whole scene at the Hall is powerfully described. The
love at first sight is well put, and the militia quarters and the
landlord are true to the life."

My husband read to me the MS. of the novel as fast as he wrote it, and I
was afraid that some of the original characters might be recognized by
their friends, being so graphically described; however, he believed it
unlikely, people seeing and judging so differently from each other.

In the summer, as usual, we had several visitors who afforded varying
degrees of pleasure; a strange lady-artist amongst others, whose
blandishments did not succeed in making my husband acquiesce in her
desire of boarding with us, free of charge, in return for the English
lessons she would give to our children. She resented the non-acceptance
of her proposition, and having begged to look at the studies on the
easel, feigned to hesitate about their right side upwards, by turning
them up and down several times, and retiring a few steps each time as if
in doubt.

A more desirable visit was that of M. Lalanne, who besides his talent
had much amiability and very refined manners. Ever after he remained, if
not quite an intimate friend of my husband, at least more than an
acquaintance, and whenever they had a chance of meeting they made the
most of it. Gilbert, after one of these meetings,--a _déjeuner_ at M.
Lalanne's,--told me the following anecdote. Some one asked him if he
had not the "Legion d'honneur"? and being answered that it had not been
offered, went on to say that it was not "offered," but "accordée"
through the influence of some important personage, or by the pressure of
public opinion; "and I think this should be your case," M. Lalanne's
friend went on, "for you have rendered, and are still rendering, such
great service to French art and to French artists, that it ought to be
acknowledged. As you do not seem inclined to trouble yourself about it,
a deputation might be chosen among your admirers to present a petition
to that effect to the Ministre des Beaux-Arts." Mr. Hamerton having
replied that he should prize the distinction only if it were
spontaneously conferred, M. Lalanne remarked that decorations were of
small importance, and asked without the slightest pride, "Do you know
that I am one of the most _décorés_ of civilians?... No; well, then, I
will show you my decorations." Then ringing the bell, he said to the
maid who answered it, "Bring the box of decorations, please." It was a
good-sized box, and when opened showed on a velvet tray a number of
crosses, stars, rosettes, and ribbons of different sizes and hues, all
vying in brilliancy and splendor. The first tray removed, just such
another was displayed equally well filled, and M. Lalanne explained
that, having given lessons to the sons of great foreign personages, they
had generally sent him as a token of regard and gratitude some kind of
decoration--maybe in lieu of payment.

At the end of 1869 "Wenderholme" was published, and the first number of
the "Portfolio" made its appearance on January 1, 1870, and from that
date it became for the editor an undertaking of incessant interest, to
the maintenance and improvement of which he was ever ready to devote
himself, and for which he would have made important sacrifices. The
dedication of "Wenderholme" was meant for Aunt Susan, and after
receiving the book, she wrote:--

"Accept my most sincere and highly gratified thanks for the copy of your
novel, and its dedication. We have heard that the "Times" and the
"Yorkshire Post" had each favorable articles on the merits of your
novel. We have detected nearly every character, even those that take
other forms, but we do not even whisper any information in this
neighborhood. Mr. and Mrs. W---- were immediately struck with the
'hoffens' and 'hirritation' of the doctor, but I pretend to think it not
individual, but that it was the case among the people you were writing

In May 1870, Mr. Hamerton removed to La Tuilerie, about five hundred
yards from Pré-Charmoy. He continued to date his letters from
Pré-Charmoy--the new house being on the estate so called; his motive was
to avoid possible confusion in the delivery of his letters. He was
greatly tickled to hear the peasants call his new abode "le château de
l'Anglais," and to see them staring admiringly from the road at the
windows, which were left open that paint and plaster might dry before we
came to live in it. Though perfectly independent of luxury, my husband
liked cleanliness and taste in the arrangement of the simplest
materials, and he contrived by a good choice of patterns and colors in
the papering of the rooms, with the help of fresh matting on the floors,
and the judicious hanging of fine engravings and etchings in his
possession, to impart quite a new and pleasant aspect to the _banale
maison bourgeoise_. Gradually I became reconciled to it, on account of
its greater convenience, and I even came to like it when the vines and
wisteria and golden nasturtiums hid the ugly bare walls, and the
fragrance of mignonette and roses and petunias was wafted into the rooms
looking over the garden, and that of wild thyme and honeysuckle into
those which looked over the fields; when the tall acacias began to shoot
upwards straight and graceful from their velvety green carpet, and
scattered upon it their perfumed moth-like flowers; while we listened to
the humming of the happy bees in the sweet-smelling lime trees and to
the wondrous song of the rival nightingales challenging each other from
bower to bower in the calm, warm nights of summer-time. And such a great
change did not take very long to realize: the ground had been well
drained and plentifully manured, and it was almost virgin soil,
unexhausted by previous vegetation, so that the elm-bower was soon
thickly leaved and with difficulty prevented from closing up, the
climbing vines became heavy with grapes, whilst the spreading branches
of the acacias speedily formed a vast parasol, and afforded a pleasant
shelter from the glare of the August sunshine. Hardy fruit trees of all
kinds had been planted all along the garden hedge, and in the third year
began to yield cherries--in moderation--but plums of different species
we had in great quantities, also quinces, sometimes apples, apricots,
and figs--the two last, however, were frequently destroyed by frost,
the spring being generally very cold in the Morvan. As to pears, we had
to wait somewhat longer for them, the pear trees requiring strict
pruning to preserve the quality of the fruit; but we used to have a
small cart-load of them when the year had been favorable. There was
nothing my husband liked better than to pick gooseberries, currants,
raspberries, cherries, or plums, and eat them fresh as we took a walk in
the garden; he was very fond of fruit, and unlike most men, he would
rather do without meat than without vegetables or dessert. His tastes in
food, as in everything else, were very simple, but he was particular
about _quality_. I never heard him complain of insufficiency, though,
situated as we were, there was sometimes only just enough; and even that
lacking which might have been considered as most necessary, namely, a
dish of meat. For Gilbert, however, it was not a privation when
occurring occasionally; nay, he even enjoyed the change, and as I
generally went to Autun on Fridays and could get fish, we made it a
_jour maigre_, though not from religious motives. It was understood that
if eggs were served they must be newly laid; if potatoes, mealy and _à
point_; if fish, fresh and palatable; he would not have tolerated the
economy of one of our lady neighbors, who abstained from buying fish at
Autun because it was too dear, she said; but who used to bring a full
hamper when she came back yearly from Hyères, where it was cheap, enough
to last for a week _after the journey_, and who considered the unsavory
hamper an ample compensation for the absence of fish from her menus
during the remainder of the year.

The removal did not hinder or interrupt Mr. Hamerton seriously in his
work, for the new house was quite ready to receive the furniture; and
the place of every piece having been decided beforehand, the farmers
merely handed them out of their carts to the workmen, who carried them
inside the rooms, according to previous directions.

The difficulty of getting proofs of the different states of his plates
whilst etching them, incited my husband to invent a press for his own
laboratory, that he might judge of his work in progress by taking proofs
for himself whenever he liked. Considering the present state of our
affairs I was not favorable to the idea, but I was overruled, as in all
cases concerning expenses deemed necessary to artistic or literary
pursuits. He had few material wants, and therefore thought himself
justified in providing for his intellectual needs--for instance, by the
gradual formation of a library. He often deprecated the necessity of
apparent extravagance in such things; "but you see," he would say, "I
cannot stand stationary in the acquirement of knowledge if I am to go on
teaching others--I must keep ahead--without mentioning the satisfaction
of my own tastes and cravings, to which I have a certain right." Indeed
it was truly wonderful that he should have been able to achieve so much
work, and work of such quality, in the intellectual solitude and
retirement of these seven years passed out of great cities where
libraries, museums, and human intercourse constantly offer help and
stimulus to a writer. Luckily for him he bore solitude well. He has said
in "The Intellectual Life": "Woe unto him that is never alone, and
cannot bear to be alone!" And again: "Only in solitude do we learn our
inmost nature and its needs." Further on: "There is, there is a strength
that comes to us in solitude from that shadowy awful Presence that
frivolous crowds repel." He often sought communion with that awful
Presence in the thick forests of the Morvan and on the highest peak of
the Mont Beuvray, and found it.

For some time our minds had been disturbed by the unsettled aspect of
French politics, and the possibility of a war with Prussia had been a
cause of great personal anxiety to my husband on account of his
nationality. He has related in "Round my House" how the news of the
declaration of war reached us on a Sunday, as we were bringing the
children home after spending the day peacefully in the fields and on the
river-banks of a picturesque little village.

It is probable that if my husband had been able to bear a long railway
journey, we might have accepted the hospitality so kindly offered in the
following letter:--

WEST LODGE. _August_ 12, 1870.

"MY VERY DEAR NEPHEW AND NIECE,--I am most grievously and fearfully
concerned to hear of your sad condition in consequence of the terrible
and needless war that is now spreading misery, desolation, and perhaps
famine all over the Empire, just to gratify the unbounded ambition of
one man. We wish you and your three children could fly over to us and be
in safety. Really, if you get at all alarmed, do not hesitate to come,
all of you, with as much of your property as you can pack and bring; we
can and shall be pleased to find you refuge from any pending evil you
may be dreading. Dear P. G., you would find your articles about the
state of your country had got copied into the 'Manchester Courier,' but
we wish to caution you about what you put in them. Remember whose iron
heart could punish you, and what would become of your wife and family if
you were cast into prison.

"The little grandson and his nurse are coming here on Tuesday next for a
month; they will only occupy one bedroom, so there will still be the
best bedroom and a very good attic, and half of my bed if little Mary
Susan Marguerite dares trust herself with me"

Although Mr. Hamerton had always taken great interest in politics, he
never wished to play an active part in them; from time to time he wrote
a political article about some cause he had at heart, or some wrong
which he wished to see redressed, or again on some obscure point which
his experience of two countries might help to clear up, but he never
consented to supply regular political correspondence to any newspaper.
Having had rather a lengthened connection with the "Globe," he was
offered the post of war-correspondent, which he declined.

He has passed over many interesting incidents of this wartime in "Round
my House," although he has given a few. One of the most striking was
certainly his guiding a Garibaldian column _en reconnaissance_ across
the bed of the river Ternin, on a bitterly cold day, mounted on his
spirited little Cocote, who showed quite a martial mettle, and may well
have felt proud of leading a number of great cavalry horses. She took no
harm from her cold bath, but her master, whose legs had been in the icy
water (on account of her small height) up to the thighs, was not so
fortunate: he caught a serious chill, accompanied with fever and pains,
which confined him to the house over a week. He mentions in the book our
anxiety when the spy mania was at its height, and the workmen had almost
decided to attack us in a body, but he refrains from detailing how, day
after day, when the "hands" congregated in the village inns after dinner
in the twilight, we used to take our children by the hand and pass, with
hearts in anguish for their safety, but with as confident a countenance
as we could command, before their infuriated groups; never knowing
whether some fatal blow would not be dealt from the next group or the
one following. The men stood on the door-steps, or in the very middle of
the road, awaiting us with lowering brows and sullen looks of suspicion,
when with sinking hearts and placid faces we stopped to say a few words
to one of our _present_ enemies to whom we had formerly rendered some
help in illness or destitution. The truth is, they generally looked
somewhat ashamed on such occasions, and always answered politely, but
without the frank and pleased looks of other days, when they were proud
of our notice and interest; they would rather have done without it now,
especially in the company of their fellow-conspirators against our
safety. I dare say the innocent unconcern of our children, who laughed
and played freely in their happy ignorance of danger, proved our best
safeguard, but still every night after reaching home we could not help
thinking--"How will it be to-morrow?"

Just at the beginning of the hostilities, my husband had deprecated the
rashness of the French people, which was blinding them to the unprepared
state of their army, and to its numerical inferiority when compared with
the German force. But when he saw that, although the King of Prussia had
said that the war was not directed against the French people, he was
still carrying it on unmercifully after the fall of Napoleon III., his
sympathies with the invaded nation grew warmer every day, and he did all
that was in his power to spare from invasion that part of the country
where we lived, and which we knew so well. He put himself in
communication with General Bordone,--Garibaldi's aide-de-camp (Garibaldi
himself being very ill at that time),--and explained how Autun might be
surprised by roads which had been left totally unguarded. He made a
careful map of the country about us for Garibaldi, and shortly after,
outposts were placed according to his directions, so as to prevent the
enemy from reaching Autun by these parts, without resistance.

He used to go to Autun with Cocote almost every night for news, and met
there with Garibaldian officers whom he often drove to inspect the
outposts, and they gave him the password for the sentinels on his way
home. One night, however, he had remained even later than usual, having
taken an officer to a very distant outpost, and when he reached the road
leading to La Tuilerie, the password had been changed, and he was
detained in spite of all he could say to be allowed to proceed on his
way. He would have submitted easily to the discomfort of a few hours in
the guard-room had it not been that he realized how anxious I must be,
and when he heard the order of march given to a patrol, he asked to be
allowed to join it as it was going his way, observing that the soldiers
would have the power of shooting him if he attempted to run away.

The permission was granted, and he set off on foot, in the midst of the
patrol, followed by his dog, Cocote having been left at the inn.

It was freezing hard, and the snow lay deep on the ground; the march was
a silent one--the men having been forbidden to talk--and it was a
miracle that Gilbert's dog escaped with its life, for every time it
barked or growled it was threatened with instant death. His master,
however, artfully represented that in case enemies were hidden in the
ditches or behind the hedges bordering the road, "Tom" would soon
dislodge them and help in their capture. This seemed to pacify the men,
together with the prospect (no less artfully held out) of a glass of rum
each when they reached La Tuilerie.

It was a weary march for Gilbert and an anxious watch for me, and as
soon as I heard the joyful bark of our dog announcing his master's
return, I hastened downstairs and made a great blaze for the half-frozen
patrol and its prisoner, and served to them all some hot grog which was
duly appreciated.

I have no doubt it seemed hard to the poor soldiers to leave the seats
by the leaping flames to resume their slippery march in the creaking
snow, but they did it promptly enough, somewhat cheered by the renewed
warmth they were carrying away with them.

Mr. Hamerton has described in "Round my House" how he watched the
battle which took place at Autun, from our garret window. With the naked
eye we could only see the dark lines of soldiers without being able to
follow their strategical movements; but to my husband, with the help of
his telescope, every incident was instantly revealed, and he
communicated them to us in succession as they occurred.

It is needless to say what a relief we experienced when we heard that
the enemy was falling back--ever so slightly. Then every one of us,
women and children, wanted to look through the telescope, and for once I
_did_ see in it, and hailed with heartfelt thanksgivings, the scarcely
perceptible retreating movement of the Germans.

At that moment the light of day was fading fast, and in the twilight I
could just see my husband turning towards our awestruck children and
saying to them: "I am certain that you will never forget this day, and
what a horrible thing a war is."

And they answered, "Oh! never!"

Despite these painful preoccupations, Mr. Hamerton had prepared the
"Etcher's Handbook" and its illustrations, and was writing a series of
articles on the "Characters of Balzac" for the "Saturday Review." To
save time I read to him "Le Père Goriot," "Eugénie Grandet," "Ursule
Mirouet," "Les Parents Pauvres," "La Cousine Bette," etc. Mr. Harwood
approved of the series, but although my husband admired Balzac's talent
greatly, he disliked the choice of his subjects in general, and
complained to me of the desponding state of mind they produced in him;
he called it "withering" sometimes. In consequence he became convinced
that it was not a good study--mentally--for him, and rightly abandoned
the series, for it was of importance that he should be in the healthiest
mental condition to write the "Intellectual Life," the form of which was
giving him a great deal of trouble. He had already begun it twice over,
and each time had read to me the preliminary chapters, without giving to
my expectant interest entire satisfaction. He had had the plan of the
book in contemplation for years, and the gathered materials were rich
and ready, but the definite form had not yet been found. He was in no
way discouraged by repeated failures, and told me he "was sure to grasp
it sometime," only he grew excited in the struggle. The prudent rule
which forbade work at night had been cast aside, and it was about two
o'clock in the morning when I was awakened to listen to the first
chapters of the "Intellectual Life," as they now remain. I was very
happy to be able to praise them unreservedly: hitherto my part had been
but a sorry one. I could only say, "I don't think this is the best
possible form," without suggesting what the best form ought to be; but
now I felt sure it answered exactly to my expectations, and my husband
rejoiced that "he had hit it at last."



Landscape-painting.--Letters of Mr. Peter Graham, R. A.--Incidents of
the war time.--"The Intellectual Life."--"The Etcher's Handbook."

An American clergyman, Mr. Powers, after reading Mr. Hamerton's works,
had become one of his most fervent admirers, and there came to be a
regular correspondence between them. Mr. Powers used to gather all the
information he could about the progress of his friend's reputation in
the United States--newspaper articles, criticisms, encomiums, notes,
etc., and to send them to Pré-Charmoy. He was a great deal more
sensitive to strictures on my husband than the victim himself; and I see
in the letter-book of 1870 this entry: "April 28. Powers. To console his
mind about the article on me."

Now Mr. Powers longed to see some pictures from the hand of Mr.
Hamerton, and had so often expressed this wish, that the artist, out of
gratitude for the constant interest shown in his work, rashly promised
to paint two landscapes as a present. It was very characteristic that he
did not promise one only, but two, and at a time when he was so
overwhelmed with work that he hardly knew how to get through the most
pressing; and still more characteristic is this other entry in the
letter-book: "February 7, 1871. Powers. Sending him measures of his
pictures, so that he may get frames for them."

It is true that one of the pictures was begun, but before it was brought
to completion several years were to elapse, though the pictures were
both--at intervals--on the easel; always undergoing some change either
of effect or of composition, even of subject, for the painter could
never be satisfied with them. He felt that he lacked the power of
expressing himself, and said to me: "These are not my pictures, I
_dream_ them differently;" whilst when he had seen Mr. Peter Graham's
"Spate in the Highlands," he exclaimed: "This is one of my
_dream_-pictures; I should like to have painted it." Entirely devoid of
the false pride which prevents learning from others, he had written to
Mr. Peter Graham about what he considered his failures, and had received
the following reply:--

"With regard to what you say of yourself in your last letter, I have
never had an opportunity of seeing a picture of yours; but I cannot
imagine any one to fail in landscape who has the high qualifications for
it which you obviously have--a sensitively impressionable nature, a
strong, loving admiration for whatever in heaven or earth is beautiful
or grand in form, color, or effect. Then you have the faculty of
observation, without which a mind, however sensitive to the impressions
of nature, will not be able to do anything, will be passive, not active.
The mechanical difficulties of our art must be to some extent overcome
before our thoughts and intentions can be realized and our impressions
conveyed to others. After all, every artist feels that his work is a
failure, the success of rendering what he wishes is so exceedingly
limited in his mind. I am talking of what you know as well as I do; but
my only reason is that you spoke of yourself as failing in landscape,
'probably from want of natural ability,' which I cannot believe. My
method of getting memoranda, which you inquire about, is to study as
closely as I can; to watch and observe and make notes and drawings, also
studies in color, and patient groping after what I wish to learn, are my
only methods. I feel unable to enter into details, so much would need be
said on the subject. I believe I am much indebted to my long education
as a figure-painter for any little ability I may have in rendering the
material of nature. I was a figure-painter many years before I touched
landscape. Continued study from the antique and painting from the nude
in a life-class give, or ought to give, an acquaintance with light and
shadow which to a landscape-painter is invaluable--nature affects our
feelings so much in landscape by light and shadow. In Edinburgh we had a
long gallery with windows from the roof at intervals, and the statues
were arranged there; a splendid collection. I shall never forget the
exquisite beauty of the middle tint, or overshadowing, which the statues
had that were placed between the windows; those which were immediately
underneath them were of course in a blaze of light, and we had all
gradations of light, middle-tint, and shadow. When I came to study
clouds and skies, I recognized the enchantment of effect to be caused by
the same old laws of light I had tried to get acquainted with at the
Academy. Of course color adds immensely to the difficulty of sky
painting, and the amount of groping in the study of gray, blue, etc., is
very disheartening. I need not longer weary you, however, on this
subject, but shall just again say that I really see no reason why you
should not succeed in landscape-painting if such be your wish, and
therefore cannot think of you as having failed."

Then, in a subsequent letter, I find this passage:--

"Since receiving your last letter I have read, and with great pleasure,
your 'Painter's Camp in the Highlands.' I am stronger than ever in the
belief that it is merely from your never having devoted the necessary
amount of time to art in the right direction that unqualified success
has not been attained by you as an artist. I think it unfortunate that
you 'learned painting with a clever landscape-painter.' You probably far
excelled him in sympathy with nature, power of observation, and all the
gifts especially required for a landscape-painter. What you really
needed, study under a figure-painter, or better still at an Academy,
would have given you. Landscape nature is too complicated to be a good
school to acquire the mastery over the mechanical difficulties in art. I
don't agree with you that you ought to have filled your notebooks with
memoranda from nature instead of painting pictures at Loch Awe. Your
experience there was very valuable. A notebook memorandum from nature is
of little or no use for a picture in oil without previous study of
similar subjects or effects in the same vehicle. You ask my opinion of
your present method of study. I think it excellent, and would make only
two suggestions. You might safely discontinue the study of botany and
dissection of plants; there is not the slightest fear of a want of truth
in your pictures, and the time might be devoted to some more pressing
work. Then I think you might paint the human figure with much profit,
even to landscape-painting and writing on art."

The reader may have remarked that Mr. Hamerton had frequently painted
from a model at Pré-Charmoy, though not from the nude, for he was of
opinion that this kind of study was no great help to him at this stage,
though it might have been earlier.

A more serious impediment than technical difficulties soon stopped all
progress with Mr. Powers' pictures. It was a recurrence of the cerebral
excitement, almost in a chronic form. My husband had made a plan for
issuing--separately--proofs of the etchings appearing in the
"Portfolio;" but he was so ill that he could not hold a pen; and to
explain the details of this plan to Mr. Seeley I acted as amanuensis
under his dictation. His aunt was very much grieved to hear of this
illness, and wrote:--

"Suppose you tried a ten or twenty miles' journey by train, in some
direction whence you could return by water or conveyance if necessary. I
assure you I can do valiant things with impunity that the very thinking
of them would have made me ill about thirteen months ago."

He did not need courage to be preached to him, he had a sufficient store
of it; indeed, his nervousness had nothing to do with fear: he used to
drive or ride Cocote after she had been running away, upsetting the
carriage and breaking the harness, till she was subdued again into
docility. Once at Dieppe, in a storm, he had volunteered to steer a
lifeboat which was making for a ship in distress, but his services had
been refused when it was known that he had a family. He rode fearlessly
one of the high, dangerous bicycles of that time, about which Aunt Susan
humorously said in one of her letters that "they often prove rather
restive, and are given to, or seized with, an inclination to butting the
walls, and also of lazily lying down on the road over which they ought
to be almost imperceptibly passing along." And during the war he kindly
received, fed, and helped several _francs-tireurs_ and stray French
soldiers, perfectly aware that he was risking his life in case the
Prussians came near; he even conveyed one of them to the Garibaldian
outposts in his carriage. Of his own accord he attempted time after time
to get the better of this peculiar nervousness, but it had lately
increased to such a point that, for a time, when we reached Autun in the
carriage and came _in sight_ of the railway bridge, he had to give me
the reins, jump down, and go back to wait for my return outside the
town; for I could not go with him, having to take our boys to the
college. I never knew how I might find him when we met again. Unlike the
majority of patients, who make the most of their ailments to excite
sympathy, he considerately let me know immediately of the slightest
improvement, and kept repeating: "It will soon be over now; don't
distress yourself."

I believe that the great excitement and anxiety of the wartime had
caused the recurrence of the ailment, and no wonder, for we knew several
cases of mental derangement in the small circle of our acquaintances,
even amongst peasants, who are far from imaginative or nervous. In
Gilbert's case there were only too many reasons for anxiety, besides the
uncertainty of his situation. His brother-in-law, M. Pelletier, then
Économe of the Lycée at Vendôme, was in the thick of the strife, and his
post was not unattended with danger--though the Lycée had become an
International Ambulance. It was sometimes hard for him to restrain his
indignation before the insolence and partiality of the victors: once,
for instance, he appealed to the general in command to obtain for the
French wounded an equal portion of the bread given to the Prussians; but
he was pushed by the shoulder to an open window, from which the French
army could be seen, and the general exclaimed--pointing to the soldiers
in the distance: "Vous n'aurez rien, rien! tant que nous ne les aurons
pas battus!... allez!..."

Another time M. Pelletier had to go to Château Renaud to fetch several
things sorely wanted at the ambulance. It was forbidden by the enemy,
under penalty of death, to carry any letters out of the city, which they
had declared in a state of siege; but M. Pelletier could not find in his
heart to refuse a few from desolate mothers and wives, and these letters
were carefully sewn up at night, by his wife, in the lining of his
overcoat. Who betrayed him?... No one knows, but just as he was about to
descend the stairs, some one rapidly brushed past, whispering hurriedly,
"Leave that coat behind." He understood, went back to his apartment,
threw the coat to his terrified wife, merely saying "Burn," and had only
time to seize another great-coat hanging in the passage and rush to the
omnibus waiting with the escort. He was, however, stopped by a Prussian
officer, who said: "You sha'n't go--you are carrying letters, and you
know that you have put yourself in the way of being shot." The coat was
taken from him _and the lining cut open_. On finding nothing, the
officer said, with a dry smile: "You have been warned; but let it be a
lesson to you,--you might not escape so easily another time."

My brother Charles, despite his being the only son of a widow and
_soutien de famille_, had been enlisted, and his letters did not always
reach their destination, though his regiment was at Chagny, not far from
Autun, and for a while Mr. Hamerton had lost all traces of his
mother-in-law. Madame Gindriez had gone to Vendôme to be near her
younger daughter, Madame Pelletier, in the hope of keeping clear of the
bloody conflict, but found herself in the very centre of it after the
occupation of Vendôme by Prince Frederick Charles, and was thus shut off
from all news of her son. After vainly attempting to get a safe-conduct
during the hostilities, she at last succeeded after the armistice, and
left the town to go to Tours, where she had friends willing to receive
her, and where she expected to hear from her son. The omnibus in which
she travelled was escorted by Bismarck's White Cuirassiers, pistol in
hand, till it reached Château Renaud. In the night, Madame Gindriez was
awakened by loud rappings at her bedroom door, and ordered to give up
her room to some Prussian sergeants who had come back from an
expedition. She dressed quickly and went to the kitchen--the only place
in the hotel free from soldiers--to await the morning as she best could.
Her breakfast was served upon a small table, apart from the long one in
the centre of the room, which was reserved for the German officers. They
were very much elated, it seemed, by the armistice, thinking that it
might lead ultimately to a peace, for which they openly expressed their
desire, ordering champagne, clinking their glasses together, and
politely offering one to Madame Gindriez with the words: "You won't
refuse to drink with us _à la paix_, Madame?" "À la paix, soit," she
courageously answered; "mais sans cession de territoire." They did not

It may be easily surmised that such tidings, reaching my husband from
time to time, kept him in an anxious state far from beneficial to his
health. After the armistice, I find a great many entries in the
letter-book of letters inquiring about friends, and how they had fared
during this terrible war-time. Despite this chronic state of anxiety,
Mr. Hamerton was writing "The Intellectual Life," and had offered it for
publication in America to Messrs. Roberts Brothers. They answered:--

"We liked the title and the plan of your new work, as outlined by you,
and presuming it will be larger than 'Thoughts about Art,' we will give
you fifty pounds outright for the early copy, or we shall allow you a
percentage on it, after the first thousand are sold, of ten per cent, on
the retail price, provided we are not interfered with by competing

The author had the satisfaction of receiving another letter from Roberts
Brothers, dated July 21, 1871, in which this passage occurs: "'Thoughts
about Art' is quite popular; you have many very dear friends in this
country, and the number is increasing."

In September of the same year Mr. Haden wrote, in reference to the
projected "Etcher's Handbook":--

"Your new processes interest me immensely, and I am glad you are going
to give us a handbook on the whole subject. Let it be concise, and even
dogmatic, for you have to speak _ex cathedrâ_ on the matter, and people
prefer to be told what to do to being reasoned into it."

Ever anxious to improve himself, my husband had asked Mr. Lewes to
advise him about his reading preparatory to the new book he had begun to
write on the Intellectual Life. Here is the answer:--


"_Nov_. 2, 1871.

"MY DEAR HAMERTON,--We so often speak of you and your wife, and were so
very anxious about you during the war, that we have asked right and left
for news of you, and were delighted at last to get such good news of you

"As to the books to be suggested for your work, partly the fact that no
one can really suggest food for another, partly the fact that I don't
clearly understand the nature of your work--these perhaps make a good
excuse if the following list is worthless. It is all I have been able to
gather together.

  "Littré, 'Vie d'Auguste Comte.'
  St. Hilaire, 'Vie et travaux de Geoffroy St. Hilaire.'
  Gassendi, 'Vita Tychonis Brahei, Copernici.'
  Bertrand, 'Fondateurs de l'Astronomie Moderne.'
  Morley, 'Life of Palissy' (passionate devotion to research).
  Morley, 'Life of Cardan.'
  Berti, 'Vita di Giordano Bruno.'
  Bartholmess, 'Vie de Jordano Bruno.'
  Muir's 'Life of Mahomet.'
  Stanley's 'Life of Arnold.'
  Mazzuchelli, 'Vita di Archimede.'
  Blot's 'Life of Newton.'
  Drinkwater's 'Kepler and Galileo.'

"All these are first-rate, especially the two last, published by the
Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge, together with some
others, under the title of 'Lives of Eminent Persons.'

"The 'Biographie Universelle' will give you, no doubt, references as to
the best works under each head.

"We did not go abroad this year, but buried ourselves in absolute
solitude in Surrey--near Haslemere, if you know the lovely region; and
there I worked like a man going in for the Senior Wranglership, and Mrs.
Lewes, who was ailing most of the time, went on with her new work. This
work, by the way, is a panorama of provincial life, to be published in
eight parts, on alternative months, making four very thick vols. when
complete. It is a new experiment in publishing. While she was at her
art, I was at the higher mathematics, seduced into those regions by some
considerations affecting my personal work. The solitude and the work
together were perfectly blissful. Except Tennyson, who came twice to
read his poems to us, we saw no one.

"No sooner did we return home than Mrs. Lewes, who had been incubating
an attack, _hatched_ it--and for five weeks she was laid up, getting
horribly thin and weak. But now she is herself again (thinner self) and
at work.

"She begs me to remember her most kindly to you and to Mrs. Hamerton.

"Ever yours truly,

"G. H. LEWES."

Almost in every letter that my husband received from Mr. Lewes, he had
this confirmation of what George Eliot had told him about the heavy
penalty in health attending or following her labors.

Mr. Lewes had not mentioned his lives of Goethe and Aristotle, but they
were ordered with the other books he had recommended, and I began to
read them aloud to my husband whilst he was etching the plates for an
illustrated edition of the "Painter's Camp," that he had always hoped to
see accepted by Mr. Macmillan.

M. Pelletier had been promoted from Vendôme to Lons-le-Saunier, and
after spending a month of the vacation at our house with his wife and
three children, now invited his host and family to go back with him for
the remainder of the holidays. However, the boys only went, for their
father was incapacitated for railway travelling, and the little girl May
could not be persuaded to leave her parents, even to go with her cousins
and her Aunt Caroline, whom she so much loved.

The nervous state into which my husband had been thrown back had
produced a morbid sensitiveness to noise and to the sight of movement
which isolated him more and more, even from his nearest friends, and
during these last vacations he had seldom been able to take _déjeuner_
with us. In consequence he had a little hut erected near the river, _au
buisson Vincent_, whither he retired almost daily, and to which I took
or sent him his lunch; there he read, wrote, or sketched, surrounded
only by silent and motionless objects. This morbid sensitiveness
decreased with the light of day, and when the sun had set we generally
joined him to admire the beauty of the after-glow fading slowly into
twilight in the summer evenings. He always dined with us all, and after
dinner he either listened to music, of which he was very fond, or even
played a little himself on the violin, or walked out in company. We made
quite a little procession on the road now,--six children romping about,
my sister and her husband, my mother and my brother Charles, the master
of the house and myself; and since it had transpired that my husband was
not so well, some of his friends at Autun or in the neighborhood came as
often as they could to make him feel less out of the world. He has said
himself: "The intellectual life is sometimes a fearfully solitary one.
Unless he lives in a great capital the man devoted to that life is more
than other men liable to suffer from isolation, to feel utterly alone
beneath the deafness of space and the silence of the stars. Give him one
friend who can understand him, who will not leave him, who will always
be accessible by day and night,--one friend, one kindly listener, just
one,--and the whole universe is changed." In his case the friendly and
intelligent intercourse kept up with his wife's relatives alleviated in
a great measure the sense of isolation.

The life in the hut, together with the botanical studies and the
formation of the herbarium, suggested the plan of the "Sylvan Year," and
thereby lent additional interest to these pursuits, though at that time
his main work was the prosecution of "The Intellectual Life," now that
he had finished the correction of the handbook on etching. [Footnote:
Contributed to the "Portfolio," and afterwards published separately.]
This last work brought him many pleasant letters from brother artists,
but I shall only quote what Mr. Samuel Palmer said about it, because it
was his praise, and that of Mr. Seymour Haden, which gave the author the
greatest satisfaction, coming from authorities on the subject.

"REDHILL. _January_, 1872.

"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--Had I thanked you earlier for your 'handbook,'
which came long ago, I could not have thanked you so much: for it is the
test of good books, as of good pictures, that they improve with
acquaintance. I had a little 'Milton' bound with brass corners, that I
might carry it always in my waistcoat-pocket--after doing this for
twenty years it was all the fresher for its portage. Your invention of
the positive process is equally useful and elegant; useful because the
reverse method lessens the pleasure of work, elegant because the
materials are delicate and the process cleanly and expeditious."

In this letter Mr. Palmer expressed his desire to publish a translation
of Virgil's "Eclogues" in verse, and asked for his correspondent's
advice about it. Another source of satisfaction to Gilbert was the
increasing success of his works in America. In January, 1872, he had a
letter from Roberts Brothers, in which they said:--

"We have mailed you a copy of 'The Unknown River.' It has proved a
success, and has been generally admired. It is a charming book, and we
should like to bring out a popular edition. 'Thoughts about Art' is
selling better than we expected--it has given a start to the 'Painter's
Camp,' which we are now printing a second edition of.

"We think you are getting to be well known and appreciated in this

Enclosed in the letter was a remittance for £49 8_s_., which proves that
an author has need of a good many successes to pay his way; still, these
remittances from America made a difference in Mr. Hamerton's
circumstances, and were exclusively devoted to the education of his
boys. Though unambitious, he was not indifferent to the increase in his
reputation, for he had written in "The Intellectual Life," "Fame is
dearer to the human heart than wealth itself." He certainly cared
infinitely and incomparably more for his reputation--such as he wished
it to be, pure, dignified, and honored--than for wealth; his only desire
about money, often expressed, was "not to have to think about it."



Popularity of "The Intellectual Life."--Love of animals.--English
visitors.--Technical notes.--Sir F. Seymour Haden.--Attempts to resume

The dedication of "The Intellectual Life" was a perfect surprise to me
when I first opened my presentation copy: the secret had been well kept.
I felt grateful and honored to be thus publicly associated by my husband
in his work, though my share had been but humble and infinitesimal--more
sympathetic than active, more encouraging than laborious. Our common
dream had been to be as little separated as possible, and he had
attempted soon after our marriage to rouse in me some literary ambition,
and to direct my beginnings. I first reviewed French books for "The
Reader," and he was kind enough to correct everything I wrote; then he
induced me to try my hand at a short novel, reminding me humorously that
some of my father's friends used to call me "Little Bluestocking." He
took a great deal of trouble to find a publisher for my second novel,
and was quite disappointed to fail. He wrote to encourage me to

"The reviews of your first novel have all been favorable enough, but the
publishers told me they had _never_ published a one-volume novel that
had succeeded, and that they had now made up their minds _never_ to
publish another, no matter who wrote it. I rather think they would
publish your new novel, but I earnestly recommend you to try ... _I am
quite sure_ you have something in you, but you want wider culture,
better reading, and more of it, and the difficulty about household
matters is for the present in your way, though if I go on as I am doing
now we will get you out of that."

A copy of "The Intellectual Life" was sent to Aunt Susan, who received
it just as she was going to visit her sister, Mrs. Hinde, whom she
found in failing health, and who died shortly after. It was a new grief
for my husband, to whom she had always been very kind. As soon as
tranquillity was re-established in France, after the war and Commune,
Mr. Hamerton had renewed a regular correspondence with his friends, and,
being greatly interested in the technique of the fine arts, consulted
those friends whose experience was most to be relied upon. Mr. Wyld's
letters are full of explanation about his own practice, as well as that
of Decamps, Horace Vernet, Delaroche, and Delacroix. In one of them I
find this interesting passage:--

"I very much doubt if the talent of coloring can be _learnt_. I think it
is a gift like an ear for music, which if not born with you can never be
perfectly acquired (I, for instance, _I am sure_, could never have
_perfectly_ tuned a violin). Doubtless if the faculty exists
intuitively, it may be perfected, or at all events much improved by
study and practice, but he that has it not from birth, _I_ think, can
never acquire it."

Mr. S. Palmer, in a long letter also devoted to the technical part of
painting and etching, turns to literature to say:--

"My pleasure in hearing of the success of 'The Intellectual Life' is
qualified only by the comparative apathy of the English. Of such a book
one edition here to three in America is something to be ashamed of."

The sale of the book was rapid, both in England and in America, but the
American sale continued to be incomparably the larger. As early as
February, 1874, Roberts Brothers wrote:--

"'The Intellectual Life' is a complete literary success in America; it
has been the means of making you almost a household god in the most
refined circles. We are now selling the fifth thousand. Our supply of
the English 'Chapters on Animals' [Footnote: Contributed to the
"Portfolio," and afterwards published separately.] is all sold, and we
are now stereotyping the book. We hope to sell a good many."

The motive which prompted my husband to write these "chapters" was
purely his love and pity for all dumb creatures. He never could do
without a dog--and the dog was always the favorite, being even preferred
to the saddle-horse; and when out of compassion for its infirmities it
had to be out of pain, his master never shirked the painful duty, but
performed it himself as mercifully as he could. One of his dogs, which
had long been treated for cancer, was at last chloroformed to death, his
master helping the veterinary surgeon all the time. Another, who became
suddenly rabid, and could not be prevented from entering the house, to
the imminent peril of us all, he met and stunned at a blow with a log of
wood, having no weapon ready. Poor Cocote was not sold when she became
useless, but allowed to divide her old age peacefully between the
freedom of the pasturage and the comfort and plenty of the stable, till
her master asked the best shot of the place (a poacher) to assist him in
firing a volley, which quickly put an end to her life, as she was
unsuspectingly coming out of the field. And he only came to this
decision when we left the country. Out of love or pity my husband was
interested in all animals, and I believe that animals were instinctively
aware of it. Dogs always sought his caresses; he used to remove _with
his hands_ toads from the dangers of the road, and they did not seem
afraid. He never was stung by bees, though he often placed his hand flat
in front of the opening in the hive, so that they were obliged to alight
upon it before entering. Of the rat only he had a nervous horror, but it
remained unconquerable; he disliked the sight of one, and if he met one
accidentally, he always experienced a disagreeable shock. When he tried
to find out the reason, he was inclined to attribute it to the
disquieting rapidity and restlessness of its movements.

In 1874 Mr. Hamerton began to write for the "International Review,"
principally on the fine arts, and continued his contributions till 1880.
Roberts Brothers expressed a wish that he would reserve the publications
in book form to their firm, which had done so much for his reputation.

At the beginning of April he heard from Boston that they were printing
the sixth thousand of the "Intellectual Life," and had written to
Messrs. Macmillan that they were willing to unite in bringing out a new
edition of "Etching and Etchers." In October the seventh thousand of the
"Intellectual Life" was being printed; the second edition of "Chapters
on Animals" and the second of "Thoughts about Art" were about half gone,
and "A Painter's Camp" was going off quite freely. About the last
Roberts Brothers added: "This book ought to sell better. We have reason
to congratulate ourselves that it so fascinated us that we ventured to
republish it. We are Nature lovers, and delight to keep the company of
one who loves her and is able to tell of it as you can."

Of course we cheered Aunt Susan with the list of these successes, and
she answered: "I wish, my dear P. G., that all your admirers would be as
generous with their money as they are with their flattery, for flattery
is not a commodity to supply a family with means of subsistence." In the
same letter she told of Mr. Hinde's death and funeral, and of her hopes
of seeing her nephew, Ben Hinde, succeed to his father's living.

Early in 1874 Mr. Hamerton had the pleasure of becoming personally
acquainted with one of the most distinguished of the contributors to the
"Portfolio,"--Mr. Sidney Colvin, who now came to pay a visit to the
editor, after nursing his friend R. L. Stevenson through one of his
dangerous attacks of illness. My husband esteemed highly Mr. Colvin's
knowledge and acquirements. During his short stay this esteem expanded
into personal regard, and in after years, whenever a meeting with him
was possible, it invariably afforded gratification.

In the summer our house was turned into a sort of temporary hospital by
an epidemic of measles brought to it by the boys from their college.
Having had it in my youth, I luckily was spared to nurse in succession
the three children and my husband, whose case was by far the most
serious. However, he would not take to his bed, but remained in his
study with a good fire at night, sleeping upon an ottoman or in an
arm-chair, wrapped up in his monk's dress, and the head covered with an
Algerian chechia. In due course he got through the distemper without
accident, but for fear of chills he continued to wear the chechia and
monk's dress in the house some time after his recovery, and he was so
discovered by Mr. and Mrs. Mark Pattison when they paid us an unexpected
visit. It happened thus. I had driven my sister and her youngest boy to
Autun, where he had been invited to stay a few days at his godmother's,
and as we alighted in the courtyard of the hotel I was told that an
English gentleman and his wife had ordered an omnibus to call upon Mr.
Hamerton, and were on the point of starting. On learning that I was at
the hotel they came to propose that I should go back to La Tuilerie with
them, which proposition I accepted with pleasure. I left the
pony-carriage, told my sister that I would fetch her in the evening, and
drove off with Mr. and Mrs. Pattison, the latter very much interested by
what I could point out to her on the way,--the Temple of Janus, the
Roman archways, the double walls of the town, and Mont Beuvray.

The drive from Autun to La Tuilerie is a short one, and we soon arrived
at the garden gate. As we stopped, the study window was quickly, almost
violently, thrown open, my husband's anxious face appeared through it,
and he shouted to the bewildered coachman, "What has happened?" At the
sight of an omnibus he had been afraid of an accident (not at all
unusual with Cocote's tendency to take fright, run away, and upset
carriage and all), and had fancied me hurt, and brought back laid upon
the cushioned seat. But as soon as he saw me safe and sound, and noticed
my companions, he hastened down to receive his visitors. We spent the
afternoon very pleasantly, but as it was getting cooler and a little
damp after sunset, my husband, who was not fully recovered, had to
excuse himself from accompanying Mr. and Mrs. Pattison back to Autun,
and to let me go instead. I had the pleasure of a second meeting with
them on the following morning at the hotel, when we took leave of each

I have always remembered an incident in connection with this visit that
Mr. and Mrs. Pattison never knew of. There had been in our entrance hall
for the last four months at least, a manuscript notice written very
legibly by Mr. Hamerton, and carefully pasted up with his own hands, in
a very good light by the side of the drawing-room door, to this effect:
"English visitors to this house are earnestly requested not to stay
after seven o'clock p.m. if not invited to dine; and when invited to
dine, not to consider themselves as entitled to the use of a bedroom,
unless particularly requested to remain."

This had been done in a moment of legitimate anger and vexation (of
course without consulting me), and I had thought it the best policy to
ignore it for some time--particularly during winter, when it was put up,
for there was little probability of English visitors at that time. As to
French visitors, it was unlikely that they could make out its meaning,
and if they did, as it did not concern them, they would consider it as a
humorous _boutade_. After a fortnight, however, I begged my husband to
remove the "notice;" but his anger had not cooled a bit, and he said in
a tone that I knew to admit of no opposition that the "notice" was meant
to remain there _permanently_. And there it remained, at first
partially, and by degrees almost entirely, covered up by the shawls or
mantles that I artfully spread as far as possible over the obnoxious
manuscript, till, emboldened by non-interference, and under pretext that
the wall-paper about the door was soiled, I got leave to have a new
piece hung, and took care to have it laid _over_ the notice. This took
place on the very day that Mr. and Mrs. Pattison paid their friendly

I must now explain the cause of my husband's temporary ukase. As I have
said before, M. Bulliot, President of the Société Eduenne, was a friend
of his, and on one occasion, a Scotchman having applied to him for
permission to see a precious book kept in the archives of the learned
society, M. Bulliot, finding him well-bred and interesting, took the
trouble of bringing him to La Tuilerie, in the hope that Mr. Hamerton
and Mr. W---- would derive pleasure from the meeting. It was so, and Mr.
W----'s researches at Autun requiring a few days only, he was invited to
dinner for the morrow. He duly arrived and dined, but as he gave no sign
of going away, I asked him a little before ten if he was a good walker,
as the hotels at Autun closed at eleven. He merely answered, "No
matter." Looking already like an old man, and weak besides, I felt
certain that he could not possibly reach the town in time for a bed, and
I quietly retired to mine. My husband told me in the morning that he had
shown Mr. W---- to the spare room, unwilling to turn an old man out in
the cold and mist of an early morning. I foresaw a repetition of what
had happened at Pré-Charmoy. And so it proved, for Mr. W---- quartered
himself upon us for two days, and it is impossible to say how much
longer he would have stayed if my husband had not at last insisted
peremptorily on driving him back to Autun.

On reaching home Gilbert immediately went up to his study to write his
"Notice to English visitors," and without saying a word securely pasted
it up at the entrance. A few days later he heard from the proprietor of
the Hótel de la Poste, that before leaving Mr. W---- had said, "Mr.
Hamerton will settle the bill."

It was a good thing for my husband that he gave so much consideration to
the bringing up of his children, for indirectly he derived from it some
benefit to his own health; for instance, not wishing them to be always
confined to college, he used often to drive them to and from Autun; and
in the summer, as he came back, he would just stop the pony for a few
minutes at our gate to pick up the rest of the family and a hamper, then
take us to a cool and shady dell divided from a little wood by the river
Vesvre--the coldest water I ever bathed in; and as soon as Cocote was
taken out of harness and left in the enjoyment of the fresh grass, we
all tumbled into the icy water, and swam till our appetites were
thoroughly sharpened for a hearty dinner in the lingering twilight.

The children were also taken by their father to the hills, where they
climbed about whilst he sketched; his little daughter Mary liked nothing
better than to spend a day "au Pommoy" above the beautiful valley of the
Canche, where the parents of our servant-girl lived. They were farmers
in a very humble way, but they offered us heartily the little they
possessed,--the new-laid eggs, the clotted cream, which the children
delighted in, thickly spread upon black bread, and which the mother
prepared in perfection; also frothy goat's milk, with walnuts and
chestnuts in their season. Cocote, too, had free access to the dainty
grass and crystal spring of their pasturage in the hollow behind the
cottage. Whilst my husband painted and I read to him, we watched the
children, who, bare-footed and bare-legged, turned up the stones in the
river-bed seeking for trout and crayfish. In the course of these
pleasant excursions Gilbert entered into conversation with every one he
met--farmers, shepherdesses, cow-boys, and even beggars, learning what
he could of their lives and thoughts, sympathizing with their labors and
their wants, often conveying useful information to their minds,
frequently on politics, sometimes on geography or science. He tried to
explain to them the railways and telegraph, for many of the dwellers in
these hilly regions had never seen a railroad, especially the old folk,
who could no longer walk any great distance, and remembered Autun only
as it was in the time of the diligences. He liked the polite,
deferential manners of the French peasants and their quiet dignity; and
they felt at ease with him because of his serious interest in what
concerned them, and total absence of pride in the superiority of his
station or learning. Wherever he went he liked to see the parish church,
and generally found it worth his while, either artistically or
historically. The cure was frequently to be met with, and not sorry to
talk with a person better informed than most of his parishioners: it was
for Gilbert another field to glean from, and on such occasions he
generally managed to bring home a sheaf with him. It was most remarkable
to see how well he got on with the Roman Catholic clergy, although his
religious opinions were never hidden from them, and his attitude by no
means conducive to hopes of conversion; but on the other hand, he was
not aggressive, and did not turn into ridicule ceremonies or beliefs to
which he remained a stranger. Perfectly firm in his own convictions, he
respected those of other people, because his large sympathy understood
the different wants of different natures, even when he had no share in
them. He was always on visiting terms with _our_ curé (the one
officiating at Tavernay--the nearest village to La Tuilerie), and on
friendly terms with the Aumônier de l'Hôpital and the Aumônier de
Collège (although the boys were not under his spiritual direction, their
father considering it as a duty to let them choose their own religion
when they were of age); later on l'Abbé Antoine, professor at the
seminary, became a faithful and welcome visitor to La Tuilerie; even
Monseigneur the Bishop of Autun gave a signal proof of his respect for
Mr. Hamerton's character, which will be related in due course, and
visited him afterwards so long as we remained in the Autunois.

The technical difficulties of painting, which were giving my husband so
much trouble to conquer, led him to speak not unfrequently of the
advantages formerly afforded to students by the privilege of working in
the same studios with their masters, and even of having some portions of
the masters' pictures to execute under their personal and invaluable
direction. He realized what a gain it would be, not only for beginners,
but even for artists, to be acquainted with the best methods of the best
artists, and at last, counting upon their well-known generosity, he
resolved to make a general appeal to their experience. They were almost
unanimously favorable to the idea, and furnished valuable notes, the
substance of which was published in the "Portfolio." The letters are too
technical, though very interesting, to be quoted here, but the eminent
names of the writers will be a proof of the importance attached to the
subject. I find those of Sir Frederick Leighton, Sir John Gilbert,
Watts, Holman Hunt, Samuel Palmer, Calderon, Wyld, Dobson, Davis,
Storey, etc., etc., in the notes still in my possession.

My husband was himself in the habit of making experiments in painting
and etching, though he deplored both the time and money so spent, and
repeatedly resolved not to meddle any more with them; but he could not
keep the resolution. His mind was so curious about all possible
processes and technicalities, and his desire of perfection so great,
that not only did he experiment in all the known processes, but invented
new ones. Entries in the note-book like the following are of frequent

"Experiments with white zinc did not succeed."

"This month tried sulphur with success. I discovered also that the
three-cornered scraper is excellent for obtaining various breadths of
line in the background."

"I made a successful experiment in sandpaper mezzotint."

"M. de Fontenay and I made _crême d'argent_ very cheaply indeed."

"To-day I tried experiments on grains: the grains given by the sandpaper
and rosin. That given by the fine glass-paper was the best."

"Quite determined to put a stop to all experiments, in view of
typographic drawings."

Here is an important entry, August 19, 1875:--

"RESOLVED in future to confine myself exclusively to oil-painting and
etching in all artistic work done for the public, except the designs for
the bindings of my books, which may be done in water-colors.

"RESOLVED also that there shall be as little as possible of copying and
slavery in my artistic work, but that Etching shall be Etching, and
Painting Painting."

He had been working very hard, copying etchings for the new edition of
"Etching and Etchers," and was thoroughly tired of it. I see in his

"Finished my plate after Rembrandt. N.B.--Will never undertake a set of
copies again."

"Felt it a great deliverance to be rid of plates for 'Etching and

A later note:--

"There is no technical difficulty for me in etching. I ought therefore
to direct my energies against the artistic difficulties of composition,
drawing, light and shade. Haden's 'Agamemnon' is the model for the kind
of work I should like to be able to do in etching. Comprehensive
sketching is the right thing."

Meanwhile our boys were growing, and giving great satisfaction to their
father by their application to and success in their studies; they always
kept at the head of their class, and carried off a great number of
prizes at the end of every scholastic year. The younger boy, Richard,
evinced an early taste for the pictorial arts, and was gifted with a
sure critical faculty and a natural talent for drawing. Although he had
never taken regular drawing-lessons, he had often watched his father at
work, had occasionally sketched and painted under his direction, and was
receiving a sort of artistic education by what he saw at home of
illustrated periodicals, engravings, and etchings sent for presentation
or criticism. He was early tempted to try etching, and of course
received encouragement and help; the first attempt was a success, as far
as it went, and Mr. S. Palmer wrote about it:--

"Your son's etching has given pleasure to other than 'parental eyes.'
'What a sweet little etching,' said my wife, who saw it lying on the
table; 'it is like an old master.' There is something touching in the
sight of a beginner, full of curiosity and hope. My yearning is, 'O that
he may escape the rocks on which I split--years wasted, any one of which
would have given a first grounding in anatomy, indispensable anatomy, to
have gone with the antique. The bones are the master-key; the marrowless
bones are the talisman of all life and power in Art. Power seems to
depend upon knowledge of structure; all surface upon substance; knowing
this, and imbued with the central essence, we may venture to copy the
appearance, perhaps even imitate it."

Mr. Seeley also wrote, with sly humor: "Your boy's etching is capital.
It would be interesting to know what processes this remarkable artist

Richard frequently expressed his intention of being a painter; but his
father, though much pleased to notice in the boy a real tendency towards
art, did not at all feel certain that there were in him the gifts
indispensable to the making of an artist. I was often told that, despite
the cleverness of his copies, and even of his caricatures, he seemed to
lack invention and originality. However, it was understood that he would
be allowed a fair trial,--but only after taking his degree of "Bachelier
ès-lettres," for his father was of opinion that perhaps more for artists
than for men in other professions, a liberal education was necessary to
the development of the finest aptitudes. He also thought that the boys
might now appreciate English poetry, and selected short passages from
the best poets, which he read aloud in the evenings, whilst they
followed with books in their hands; it accustomed them to the rhythm and
to the music of the language, and the peculiar qualities of each piece
were explained to them afterwards. Little Mary Susan also received
encouragement in the practice of her music, for I see this entry on
March 7, 1875: "My little daughter and I played piano and violin
together to-day for the first time."

Very slowly and gradually his health had improved, and he was in 1875
almost free from nervousness, but he had not yet dared to attempt
railway travelling; he had occasion to write to Mr. Seymour Haden, and
here is part of the reply:--

"First, I am delighted to hear that the improvement in your health
maintains itself; next, that I shall be very happy to do you a plate for
the 'Portfolio.' I was with Macmillan the other day, and heard from him
that you were at work upon a new edition of 'Etching and Etchers.' He
spoke so well of you and of your work, that I am _empressé_ to report
him to you in this. It must be a great satisfaction to you, after the
extraordinary life you have led, to find that it is producing such
satisfactory results. May it and the good effect which attends it
continue! And this brings me to speak of your railway malady. It does
not differ from other cases of the kind in any one particular. It is an
idiosyncracy. It is not to be got over by medicine (certainly not by
chloral), but by time--or rather, by the difference induced in the
constitution by age. A man may be subject to all you describe at forty,
and actually free from such symptoms at fifty--and I should advise you
to _test_ yourself, after so long an abstinence from this mode of
travel, by a short journey now and then. No accumulative mischief could
arrive--and you _may_ find, to your great satisfaction, that you have
entirely lost your enemy. If you do, by all means come, pay us a visit,
and see what we are doing in England. I have done an etching of Turner's
'Calais Pier,' 30 _inches square_, which is by many degrees the finest
thing (if I may be permitted so superlative an expression) I have done
or ever shall do. I mean to publish it about the close of the year. I
have _built_ a press for printing it, and am having paper _made_
expressly, and real sepia (which is magnificent--both in color and
price) got from the Adriatic for the ink! so that great things ought to

And the result was certainly by far the finest of modern etchings,
according to Mr. Hamerton's opinion; in some particulars he preferred
the "Agamemnon," but the size of "Calais Pier" as an increase of
difficulty was to be considered, and if the "Agamemnon" was an original
conception, it cannot be said that "Calais Pier" was a copy--so much
being due to interpretation. Later on, when my husband was in possession
of this _chef-d'oeuvre_, it always occupied the place of honor in the

Following Mr. Haden's advice, he now tried short railway journeys at
intervals, by slow trains, so that he could get out frequently at the
numerous stations,--not to allow the accumulating effect of the
vibration,--and generally in the night. There are some short entries
about it in the diary:--

"October 7, 1875. Went to Laisy in boat with M. de Fontenay; the day was
most lovely. Came back in the train without feeling any inconvenience."

"October 12, 1875. Went from Laisy to Etang by the river. Dined there;
returned by train in the evening all right. We had no accidents, except
on a little sunken rock after Chaseux, when M. de Fontenay's boat was

In this manner he used to go to Chalon (there was rather a long stoppage
at Chagny for change of train) to stay two or three days with my mother
and brother, who lived there. He was still anxious and uneasy, but he
nerved himself to bear the discomfort, in the hope that he would get
inured to it in time, and he used to close his eyes as soon as he was in
the carriage, and to draw the curtains to avoid seeing the objects that
we passed on the line.

In the summer of 1875 he received from the new owner of Innistrynich an
invitation to revisit the dear island. Nothing could have given him more
pleasure. Mr. Muir gave him all the details of the improvements he had
effected, but said:--

"I retained the old cottage, with its twelve small apartments, and added
a new front, containing five rooms.

"I saw Donald Macorquodale [whom my husband often had in the boat with
him]; he was much pleased to hear that you had been inquiring about him.
He is now getting frail, and not very able to work. He requested me to
say that he was very glad to hear of you, and would be delighted to see
you at Loch Awe. He sold the boats you were so kind as to give him, but
he only received a small sum for them, having kept them too long."

My husband never forgot his old servants, and showed his interest in
them whenever he could; they had great affection and respect for him,
mingled with awe, well knowing that, although he gave his orders kindly,
he meant to be obeyed. There was a very trusty widow, who came to our
house twice a week, and I remember finding her in tears, and asking what
was the matter. "Ah! c'est Monsieur qui m'a grondée," she sobbed
desperately. "But what has he said to put you in such a state?" "Oh! he
did not say much; only, 'Lazarette, why will you scratch off the paint
with the matches?' ... 'Mais quand Monsieur gronde,'" ... and there was
a fresh explosion.

It was well that my husband's health was better, for it enabled him to
bear the saddening news of his uncle Thomas's approaching end; he had,
for the last few months, grown weaker and weaker, till his sister

"WEST LODGE. _September_ 1875.

"The loss of my dear worthy brother is indeed a sad blow to me, and I
was not able to attend the funeral.... I am better now, though the
doctor is still in attendance upon me. I should indeed have liked you
both to have been here, but I could not press you, or even expect you to
run such a risk.... Still, I look forward to the pleasure of seeing you
all at West Lodge before the winter sets in."

It may be here briefly explained that Miss Susan Hamerton greatly needed
her nephew's advice about money matters; they had been hitherto managed
by her brother, and she had had no care about it; but now, after
entrusting what she possessed to a person recommended by Mr. T.
Hamerton, she had become aware that it was not safe, and was afraid of
losing the savings she had been able to make, for she had no control
over the capital.

It was difficult to explain all this by letters, and she was anxious to
give all the details by word of mouth, consequently she grew more and
more pressing in the expression of the desire that her nephew should
attempt the journey; he was not to be detained by the consideration of
expense, for she intended to make him a present of some bank-shares
which she no longer wanted, since her brother had left her an increase
of income for her life.

My husband resolved to undertake the long journey in the course of 1876,
and to arrange his work in view of it. Besides his contributions to
different periodicals, he had in the year 1875 entirely written "Round
my House," prepared the new edition of "Etching and Etchers," got the
notes necessary for the "Life of Turner," and given much consideration
to a plan mentioned thus in the note-book: "December 28, 1875. Feel
inclined to write a book on remarkable Frenchmen, such as the Ampères,
Victor Jacquemont, the Curé d'Ars, and a few others who interest me."



"Round my House."--Journey to England after seven years' absence.
--Friends in London.--Visit to Mr. Samuel Palmer.--Articles for the
"Encyclopaedia Britannica."--Death of my sister.--Mr. Appleton.

The note-book for 1876 opened with the following rules, written by my
husband for his own guidance:--

"Rise at six in winter and five in summer. Go to bed at eleven in winter
and ten in summer. There must be two literary sittings every day of two
hours each. The first to be over as soon as possible, in order to leave
me free for practical art work; the second to begin at five p.m., and
end at seven p.m.

"_Something_ really worth reading must be read every day, the quantity
not fixed.

"I must go out every day whatever the weather may be.

"Time may be taken, no matter when, for putting things in order. The
best way is to do it every morning before setting to work. It is better
to try to keep things in order than to accumulate disorder.

"Keep everything _quite_ in readiness for immediate work in literature
and art.

"When tired, rest completely, but never dawdle. Be either in harness or
out of harness avowedly. Special importance is to be given to painting
this year. Pictures are to be first painted in monochrome, in raw umber
and white. Read one thing at a time in one language. All rules suspended
during fatigue."

At the beginning of the year Roberts Brothers had asked for a photograph
of the now popular author of "The Intellectual Life." In April they
acknowledged the receipt of two, and were sending some copies of the
engraving from them. They also said:--

"Suppose we should wish to bring out an edition of 'Wenderholme' this
autumn, would you abridge and rewrite it? Condensation would be likely
to make it more powerful and more interesting. Or perhaps you would
rather write an entirely new novel? We think such a novel as you could
write would have a large sale.

"The accompanying letters will interest you as proofs of your growing
popularity. We mail you to-day, by request of Miss May Alcott, a copy of
her father's clever little volume, 'Concord Days.' A fine old gentleman
he is, the worthy father of the most popular of American authoresses."

Here is Miss May Alcott's letter:--

"MY DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--I am pleased and proud that you should have
considered my letter worthy an answer, and I am still more gratified to
be allowed the satisfaction of selecting the best pictures of Concord's
great man for you. Mr. Emerson has been for more than thirty years the
most intimate friend of my father, as also Mrs. Emerson and mother; the
daughters and myself growing up together. And as father is thought to
know and understand the poet perhaps better than any other contemporary,
I venture sending by post one of his books, which contains an essay on
Mr. Emerson, which may interest you. It was thought so fine and true on
its first appearance that it was published in illuminated form for
private circulation only; but as there is not a copy of the small
edition to be obtained, I send 'Concord Days' instead. This morning, on
receipt of your very kind reply to my letter, I went to Mr. Emerson's
study and read him the paragraph relating to himself, which pleased him
exceedingly; and while his daughter Ellen stood smilingly beside him, he
said, 'But I know Mr. Hamerton better than he thinks for, as I have read
his earlier works, and though I did not meet him while in England, I
value all he writes.' Then I showed him the two pictures which father
and I thought the preferable likenesses, which I enclose by mail to you,
though he produced a collection taken at Elliot and Fry's, Baker Street,
London, from which we find none better on the whole than this head,
which gives his exact expression, and the little one giving the _tout
ensemble_ of the man we admire so much."

Few things could have given greater pleasure to Mr. Hamerton than to
learn that his works were appreciated by such a writer and thinker as
Mr. Emerson, whose books he studied and enjoyed and quoted very
frequently. But he was quite put out by the engraving of his portrait,
which, indeed, could not be called a likeness. He wrote as much to
Roberts Brothers, who replied: "We are not a bit disappointed to hear
that you don't like the head, for we have come to consider the dislike
of all authors to similar things as chronic." They offered, however, to
have the plate corrected according to the victim's directions, and
added: "But take heart upon the fact that nine hundred and ninety-nine
out of a thousand who look upon it believe it to be a facsimile of
yourself, and where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise."

In another letter, they say again:--

"The head, which to you is an insurmountable defect, is favorably looked
upon by everybody. If Mrs. Hamerton should hear the praise from fair
lips she would certainly be jealous. However, the engraver will see how
nearly he can conform to your wishes, and perhaps we may be able to
please you yet."

No praises from lips however fair would have induced me to put up with
the portrait, and I said so frankly, without being at all influenced by
jealousy, for in my opinion the original was far handsomer in expression
and bearing than the likeness; but Roberts Brothers, who had never seen
the original, still clung to the obnoxious engraving, and wrote again:
"If _we_ are deluded, and happy in that delusion, why should _you_ care?
Mrs. Hamerton, she must confess it, is jealous of our fair
countrywomen." Nevertheless it was withdrawn in deference to our wishes.

Mr. Powers was now and then discreetly reminding Mr. Hamerton of his
promised pictures, and after hearing from the painter that they were
_safe_ (whatever that may have brought to his mind) sent these verses:--


  "A famous artist over the sea
  Promised to paint two pictures for me.

  "He wrought, but his colors would not show
  His pure ideal and heart's warm glow.

  "And so the paintings are still unsent,
  Though years ago their spirit went.

  "Two pictures hang in my treasured thought--
  My dream of those the artist wrought.

  "They are sweet and fadeless, and soothe my sight,
  When weary and sad, with a strange delight.

  "But the light which shows their marvellous art
  Is the generous glow of the painter's heart.

  "This is the way that there came to me
  The gift of pictures from over the sea."


  "There's a parson out West in Chicago,
   To whom I did promise--long ago--
      A couple of pictures,
      Not fearing strictures
   Of the critical folk of Chicago.

  "Time passed, and the works were not finished;
   Time passed, yet with hope undiminished,
      That parson he wrote,
      And my conscience he smote,
   And so was I greatly punished.

  "For a promise is not a pie-crust,
   And 'I will' is changed to 'I must'
      When you say to a friend--
      'Two pictures I'll send,'
   And he orders the _cadres_ in trust.

  "Then the parson he sighed in despair--
   'Where are my two pictures?--O where?'
      In regions ideal
      Far, far from the real,
   Like cloudscapes that melt into air.

  "And then I thought--'Now it grows serious,
   For deferred hope is most deleterious;
      Yet how can I toil
      In color and oil
   In a world where the publishers weary us?'

  "Ah me! for a month with the flowers,
   And the sweet April sunshine and showers.
      To paint with delight
      From morning till night,
   For my dear friend, Horatio N. Powers!"

It may be said here that the pictures were completed and packed off in
the beginning of October, 1876.

In view of a series of large etchings Mr. Hamerton went to Decize, on
the Loire, where he hoped to find material for several subjects. He made
twenty sketches of the town, river, boats, etc., and then called upon M.
Hanoteau, the painter, who had expressed a desire for his acquaintance.
There is a short note relating the visit:--

"April 21, 1876. Arrived at ten a.m., and had a pleasant day watching
him paint. I also saw the interior of his atelier, and the things in
progress. He only paints in the immediate neighborhood. Always from
nature. When we had finished _déjeuner_ we went together to a little
_étang_ in the wood, near to which were some old cottages. He painted
that bit on a small panel. After completing his sitting he showed me
part of the road to Cercy-la-Tour, and a gentleman with him showed me
the rest.

"Had a deal of art talk with Hanoteau, also with a young sculptor called

This young sculptor was poor, but energetic and courageous; he rapidly
made his way to fame, but unfortunately died too soon to reap the
benefit of his remarkable talent.

The idea of an abridged "Wenderholme" had been accepted by the author,
who had written to Messrs. Blackwood about it, and who received the
satisfactory answer that, "though they had sustained a loss with the
first publication, they thought that the reputation and popularity of
the writer having considerably increased, 'Wenderholme' would sell well
in their 'Library Series of Novels.'" In consequence the revision was
begun at once, for Roberts Brothers had also written, "Whenever you feel
inclined to take up 'Wenderholme,' we shall be glad to comply with your
demand." And there followed a new proposition in the same letter:--

"Since writing you about a new novel, we have had an inspiration, and
have already acted upon it--a series of novelettes, to be published
anonymously, the secret of authorship, for a period, to rest entirely
with the author and publisher. We shall call it the 'No Name Series,'
and issue it in neat, square 18mo volumes of about 250 pages, to sell
for one dollar.

"Those to whom we have suggested the idea are mightily pleased, and we
are even tickled with the great fun we expect to have--something like a
new experience of the 'Great Unknown' days of Sir Walter Scott. We have
several promises from well-known authors, and we all agree that you must
write one of them. Take your own time to do so, and when you send us the
'copy' we will advance £50 towards the copyright. People say it will be
impossible to keep the secret, for an author's style cannot be hidden;
but though it may be easy enough to say, 'Oh! this is Hamerton; anybody
can tell his style,' _if it is not admitted_, there will be uncertainty
enough to make it exciting, and create a demand--we hope a large one."

Although my husband had not been so well in the spring (it was the worst
time of the year for him), he decided to start for England early in June
to see the Paris Salon and the English Academy. He did not ask me to go
with him, for our daughter had had quite recently a bad attack of
bronchitis--at one time we had even feared inflammation of the
lungs--and the greatest care against the possibility of colds had been
recommended. However, he thought he would be equal to the journey, and
gave me a promise to stop whenever he felt unwell. He reached Paris all
right, did his work there, and had a kind letter from Mr. Seeley, who

"I was greatly pleased to receive your card this morning, and learn that
you had had a successful journey. Now you will certainly come and see
me, won't you? Brunet-Debaines is here, and will remain till the end of
next week. If you are with us then, we will get him to Kingston, and
have a day on the Thames together, and all of us shall make sketches."

It was very tempting. But the next news was not so good, and Mr. Seeley
wrote again:--

"If you have lost your appetite in a big town the remedy is plain. Come
to Kingston at once. You will not be much troubled with noise there, and
you can paddle about on the river and get hungry, or go flying madly
about on a bicycle, if you have kept up the practice. There is a big
bedroom empty, and waiting for you."

The journey was resumed as far as Amiens, but the enemy proved too
strong to be overcome by courage and resolution, and after resting two
days my husband came back home by easy stages, having only told me the
truth after leaving Amiens, to prevent my going to him at any cost. He
reached La Tuilerie on the first of July, and I see in the diary:
"Rested at home. Very glad to be there." The attempt was not attended by
any lasting bad effects; he immediately regained his appetite and usual
health; but his Aunt Susan was sorely disappointed. He tried to soothe
her by explaining what he believed to be the combined causes of his
breakdown: first the intense heat, which had made his stay in Paris very
trying; the fatigue he had undergone there; and lastly the weakness
supervening after the loss of appetite, also due to the abnormal heat,
which was causing several sunstrokes every day, even in England. He
announced his intention of making another attempt with me in the autumn,
when the chances would be more in his favor.

Since the beginning of the year the study of painting had become
predominant, and had necessitated rather a heavy outlay, because
Gilbert's schemes were always so elaborate and complex--drawing-boards
of different sizes, every one of them with a tin cover painted and
varnished; some for water-colors, others for charcoals; canvases for
oils and monochromes, wooden and porcelain palettes, pastilles, tubes,
portable easels, sunshades, knapsacks, stools, brushes, block-books,
papers for water-colors and chalk studies, tinted and white, numberless
portfolios to class the studies, and--a gig, to carry the paraphernalia
to greater distances and in less time than the four-wheeled carriage
required. I was against the gig, but the boys were of course delighted,
and declared with their father that it had become "absolutely

I see in the diary: "July 30, 1876. In the evening went to Autun on
Cocote; enjoyed the ride considerably. Brought back the gig. Wife
sulky." The expenses of the year had been very heavy, owing to several
causes; first some house repairs had become inevitable, and the landlord
offering us only the option of doing them at our own cost or leaving the
house, we had to order them. The roofs were in such a state that in
stormy weather we had our ceilings and wall-papers drenched with
rain-water, and indeed it had even begun to make its way _through_ the
ceilings into the inhabited rooms. The diary for March 12, 1876, says:
"A very stormy day, the wildest of the whole year. We arranged the tents
(Stephen and I) in the attic, to prevent the rain from coming into our
bedroom." Then there had been boats made for the boys (cheap boats, it
is true, made by common joiners). They were well deserved, I
acknowledge; the boys had had each an accessit at the "Concours
Académique," and both were mentioned with praise by the Sous-Préfet at
the public distribution of prizes. Besides, what was still more
important, Stephen had successfully passed his examination for the
"Baccalauréat." Lastly, there had been an expensive and unproductive
journey, and there was the prospect of another. All this in the same
year somewhat alarmed me. The gig was not an important concern, being
made, like the four-wheeled carriage, from designs of my husband's, by
ordinary wheelwrights and blacksmiths; but though admitting its
usefulness, and even desirableness, I thought we might have done without

In the beginning of August my husband told me the plan of "Marmorne"
(for the "No Name Series"), and I had been afraid that it would be too
melodramatic; however, I was charmed when he read me the beginning, and
my fears were soon dispelled by the strength and simplicity of the

On October 4 we started for England, leaving my mother in charge of the
house and children; we stopped at Fontainebleau in the morning, and
after _déjeuner_ visited the forest pretty thoroughly in a carriage.
After dinner we went on to Paris, where we stayed only four days for
fear of its effects, and proceeded to Calais by a night-train. Luckily
for Gilbert, he could sleep very well in a railway carriage, and
sea-sickness was unknown to him. We crossed in the "Castalia," in very
rough weather indeed, the waves jumping over the deck, and covering
everything there with foam; at one time there came a huge one dashing
just against my husband's block as he was sketching, and drenched him
from head to foot. However, he took a warm bath at Dover, changed his
clothes, and felt only the better for the passage.

Mr. Seeley's house was reached at midnight, and very happy was Mr.
Hamerton to meet his friend again, and to be once more in England after
an enforced absence of seven years. On the morrow our kind host and
hostess took us to Hampton Court Palace, thence to Richmond Park by
Twickenham, and altogether made us pass a most pleasant day. The
following day was reserved for the National Gallery, and I find this
note in the diary: "I was delighted to see the Turner collection again,
and greatly struck by the luminous quality of the late works. This could
not possibly have been got without the white grounds."

On the Sunday we went to Balham to dine early with Mr. and Mrs.
Macmillan, and met Mr. Ralston and Mr. Green, the historian. It was
noted as a very interesting day by my husband.

On the sixth day we took leave of Mr. and Mrs. Seeley, and took a
night-train for Peterborough, where we visited the cathedral and town to
await the dusk; then on to Doncaster and Knottingly. From Knottingly we
did not see clearly how to reach Featherstone, and were greatly
embarrassed, when a coachman, who had just driven his master to the
station, foresaw the possibility of a handsome tip, and offered to take
us--without luggage--in his trap. It was pitch dark, he had no lamps,
the road was all ruts, and the horse flew along like mad. We only held
to our seats--or rather kept resuming them, in a succession of bumps,
now on one side, now on the other, and up in the air--by grasping the
sides of the trap with all our might, till a sudden stop nearly threw us
all out; at any rate it did throw us in a heap over each other at the
bottom of the trap--unhurt. It was with a sense of immense relief that
we plodded the rest of our way to the vicarage, where we arrived at
eleven. The diary says: "October 17, 1876. Saw my Aunt Susan again for
the first time since 1869, at which time I hardly hoped ever to see her

It was a great comfort to Gilbert to witness the affectionate care taken
of his aunt by her niece, Annie Hinde, and her brother Ben, with whom
she lived. He had always entertained a great liking for these cousins,
but it was increased during his stay at the vicarage by their hospitable
and friendly ways, and by his gratitude for their having given to his
dear relative as much of peaceful satisfaction as it was in their power
to do. Miss Susan Hamerton was aged, no doubt, but she was still able to
do everything for herself, and to occupy her time usefully in
housekeeping, sewing, reading, writing, and going out. She still
retained her strong will, and manifested it in a way which nearly
destroyed all the pleasure of the meeting with her nephew--and would
have done so, had he not yielded to it by consenting to a transfer of
bank-shares (in his favor) which involved great liabilities. She would
not listen to an explanation of the risk, and considered it ungracious
to look the gift-horse in the mouth. "It had been a capital investment,"
she said, and she remained absolutely opposed to the sale of the shares.
Her nephew had to accept the gift as it was--so that instead of
relieving anxiety it created a new one. However, having come to give her
a little of the sunshine of happiness, he decided not to let it be
clouded over. We stayed a month in happy and cordial intercourse, my
husband spending the intervals of work in long talks and walks with his
aunt, and when the time for our departure arrived, the sadness of
parting was soothed by the hope of meeting again, now that Gilbert
seemed to have recovered the power of travelling.

On our return to London we lunched with Mr. Seymour Haden, who took
my husband to the room in which he kept his collections, where they
had a long talk on art matters, and where he gave him a proof of the
"Agamemnon," whilst I was having a chat over family interests, children,
and music with Mrs. Haden.

In the afternoon we called upon George Eliot and Mr. Lewes, who were
very friendly indeed. I was greatly struck by George Eliot's memory, for
she remembered everything I had told her--seven years ago--about our
rustic life, and her first question was, "Are your children well, and do
you still drive them to college in a donkey-chaise?" She was gravely
sympathetic in alluding to the cause of our long absence from London,
and when I said how great was my husband's satisfaction in being there
again, she seized both of my hands softly in hers, and asked in the low
modulations of her rich voice, "Is there no gap?" ... "Thank God!" I
answered, "there is none." Then she let go my hands, and smiling as if
relieved she said, "Let us talk over the past years since you came;" and
then she told me of the growing interest manifested by the "thinking
world" in the works of my husband. "We are all marvelling at the
_maturity_ of talent in one so young still, and look forward hopefully
for what he may achieve."

The day after we saw Mr. Calderon in his studio, painting two beautiful
decorative pictures; there was a garland of flowers in one of them--the
freshness of their coloring was admirable. We missed Mr. Woolner, who
was out, and thence went to Mr. Macmillan's place of business, and with
him to Knapdale, where we dined and stayed all night.

As soon as dessert had been put on the table, Mrs. Macmillan begged to
be excused for a short time, as she wished to see that Mr. Freeman (who
was on a visit, but not well enough to come down) had been made
comfortable. On hearing of Mr. Freeman's presence at Knapdale, my
husband expressed his regrets at not being able to see him, and these
regrets were kindly conveyed to the invalid by Mrs. Macmillan, who
brought back his request to Mr. Hamerton for a visit in his bedroom.

I heard with satisfaction that Mr. Freeman had been very cordial, and
had shown no trace of resentment at what had passed at a former meeting
at Mr. Macmillan's house. The conversation had then turned on Ireland,
and Mr. Macmillan was, like my husband, for granting autonomy. This set
Mr. Freeman growling at the use of a Greek word, and he exclaimed, "Why
can't you speak English and say Home Rule, instead of using Greek, which
you don't know!" My husband flushed with anger, and recalled the
irritable historian--not without severity--to a proper sense of the
respect due to their host, at the same time paying a tribute to Mr.
Macmillan's remarkable abilities. Later in the evening the word "gout"
was mentioned. "There again," Mr. Freeman exclaimed, "why can't we call
it toe-woe!" But this was said in a joke, and accompanied with a laugh.

Wherever we went, we heard praises of the "Portfolio." Throughout his
life Mr. Hamerton remained, not only on good terms, but on friendly
terms with every one of his publishers; and whenever he went to London
he looked forward with great pleasure to meeting them in succession.
There were, of course, different degrees of intimacy, but the
intercourse was never other than agreeable.

For many years he had wished to know Mr. Samuel Palmer personally, and
the wish was reciprocated. Now an opportunity presented itself, and one
afternoon saw us climbing Redhill in pleasant anticipation; but when
after admiring the view we rang the bell of the artist's secluded abode,
we were told that Mr. Palmer had been very ill lately, was still keeping
his bed, and could see no one. It was a great disappointment, and some
words to this effect were written on a card and sent up to the invalid.
Soon after Mrs. Palmer came down and feelingly expressed her husband's
sincere regrets; she told us of his illness, which had left him very
weak and liable to relapses, and of the pleasure he would have derived
from a long talk with Mr. Hamerton on artistic topics. We had been shown
into the dining-room, which evidently, for the present, was not used,
though it was warmed by a good fire, but darkened by the blinds being
down and the curtains drawn. The rays of a golden sunset diffused
through the apertures a strange and mysterious glow, which suddenly
seemed to surround and envelope an apparition, standing half visible on
the threshold of the noiselessly opened door. A remarkably expressive
head emerged from a bundle of shawls, which moved forward with feeble
and tottering steps--it was Mr. Palmer. His wife could not trust her
eyes, but as soon as she became convinced of the reality of his
presence, she hastened to make him comfortable in an arm-chair by the
fire, and to arrange the shawls over his head and knees with the most
touching solicitude. "I could not resist it," he pleaded; "I have looked
forward to this meeting with so much longing." His eyes sparkled, his
countenance became animated, and regardless of his wraps, he accompanied
his fluent talk with eloquent gestures--to the despair of his wife, who
had enough to do in replacing cap and rugs. He put all his soul and
energy (and now there was no lack of it) into his speech. The art-talk
kindled all the fire of enthusiasm within him, and he told us anecdotes
of Turner and Blake, and held us for a long time fascinated with the
charm of his conversation. He could listen too, and with so vivid an
interest and sympathy that his mere looks were an encouragement. My
husband was afraid of detaining him, but he declared he felt quite well
and strong--"the visiting angels had put to flight the lurking enemy;"
he had even an appetite, which he would satisfy in our company. Nothing
loath, we sat down to an excellent tea with delicious butter and
new-laid eggs, with the impression of sharing the life of elves, and of
being entertained by a genie at the head of the table and served by a
kind fairy. This feeling originated no doubt in the small stature of Mr.
and Mrs. Palmer; in the strange effect of light under which our host
first appeared to us, and lastly in the noiseless promptitude with which
the repast was spread on the table, whilst the darkness of the room gave
way to brightness, just as happens in fairytales.

It is curious that my husband and myself should have received exactly
the same impression, and a lasting one.

The journey to Paris was resumed by slow night-trains without
disturbance to his health, and the day after his arrival he had a long
talk about etching with M. Leopold Flameng, who encouraged my husband's
attempts, and even offered to correct his defective plates rather than
see them destroyed; but this was declined, though the valuable advice
was gratefully accepted. M. Flameng looked very happy; he was in full
success, very industrious, and fond of his art; married to a devoted
wife of simple tastes, and already able to discern and foster in his son
the artistic tendencies which have made him celebrated since. They were
a very cheerful and united family. Two days after we had _déjeuner_ with
M. Rajon. Of all the French etchers who, from time to time, went to
London for the "Portfolio," I believe M. Rajon was the one best known in
English society, where his liveliness and amiability, as well as his
great talent, found appreciators.

Like almost every other artist, he did not attach so much importance to
what he could do well, as to what he could never master. His ambition
was to become a celebrated painter, but his pictures gave little hope of
it; they were heavy and dull in color, and entirely devoid of the charm
he lent to his etchings. He showed himself very grateful for what Mr.
Hamerton had done for his reputation. Accidentally, as he was admiring
the design of some very simple earrings I wore, I said that I did not
care so much for jewels as for lace, on which he answered he was
extremely fond of both--on women--and invited me to go and see a
collection of old laces he was forming. I was obliged to decline, for
our time was running short; but he made us promise to pay a long visit
to his studio during our next sojourn in Paris.

We reached home safely, and found my mother and the children all well.

There had been a great step made in the possibility of travelling this
year, though it had been attended by many returns of anxiety and
nervousness; still, it was a not inconsiderable gain to know that in
case a journey became absolutely necessary it might be achieved, and our
stay in London and Paris had been of importance in allowing my husband
to study seriously in the public galleries.

Mr. Powers had been delighted to receive his long-delayed pictures, and
wrote his thanks in terms of enthusiasm; he said that many people had
been admiring them, and that a well-known painter had exclaimed, "Now I
swear by Hamerton." About the growing popularity he wrote: "As I said
before, you win the hearts of men, and your name is now a household word
in many quarters of this country." It was exactly, in almost identical
words, what Roberts Brothers had already written. And this was true not
only in America, for many English letters echoed it.

"Round my House" was very well received. There was an important and
favorable review in the "Times," and one in the "Débats" by Taine.

In the beginning of the year Gilbert had undertaken the painting and
decoration of the staircase and lobby, which occasioned a great amount
of labor and fatigue, and interfered with his other work. He gave it up
at my entreaty, and only directed the painter, being thus enabled to
devote more time to the articles on "Drawing" in preparation for Messrs.
Black's new edition of the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," which were
finished in February.

Soon after he told me of a plan for a new book, the title of which he
meant to be "Human Intercourse," and which would require a large number
of memoranda. We all liked the idea in the family circle when it was
explained, and he began immediately to gather materials. At the same
time he continued his readings for the biographies of remarkable
Frenchmen, and he contemplated the task with deep interest and
earnestness. The year 1877, which had begun so auspiciously, had in
store for my husband one of the lasting sorrows of his life. On the
morning of March 11 he received a telegram announcing the death of his
beloved sister-in-law, Caroline Pelletier, who had died at Algiers of
meningitis, leaving three young children to the care of their desolate.
father. It was a heavy blow, an irreparable loss. She had been like both
a daughter and sister, and her affection had always been very sweet to
him. The shock was so great that his health suffered in consequence, and
the nervousness reappeared. It was of Caroline he was thinking when he
wrote in "Human Intercourse" this passage about a wife's relatives:
"They may even in course of time win such a place in one's affection
that if they are taken away by Death they will leave a great void and an
enduring sorrow. I write these lines from a sweet and sad experience.
Only a poet can write of these sorrows. In prose one cannot sing,--

  "'A dirge for her the doubly dead, in that she died so young.'"

M. Pelletier still continued with his children to spend the vacations at
La Tuilerie, but the joy fulness of these holidays was now replaced by
sorrow and regrets; the evenings were particularly trying, for of late
years they had been very merry. Our children having taken a great fancy
to acting charades, we all took part in them by turns. Their Aunt
Caroline and their father were the stars of the company, and to this day
they recollect her irresistible sprightliness as a coquettish French
kitchen-maid attempting the conquest of their father, in the character
of the typical Englishman of French caricatures. She smiled, curtsied,
and whirled about him, handling her brass pans so daintily, tossing them
so dexterously, that the bewildered and dazzled islander could not
resist the enchantress, and joined enthusiastically in the chorus of the
song she had improvised,--

  "La femme que l'on préfére
  C'est toujours la cuisiniére,"

while she played the accompaniment with a wooden spoon upon the lids of
the pans.

Her brother-in-law achieved unqualified success in the part of the
Englishman. He had kept on purpose an immense chimney-pot hat and a
tartan plaid which he used to perfection, and his "Oh's!" and "Ah's!"
were of such ludicrous prolongation, and his gait so stiff, and his
comical blunders delivered with so much of haughty assurance, that he
"brought down the house."

It was seldom that my husband consented to take an active part in games:
he generally preferred being a spectator; but whether acting or
listening, charades were one of the few pastimes for which he had a
taste,--it seems the more strange since he did not care for the theatre,
though he liked plays to be read to him. I suppose that the feeling of
being penned in a crowded place was insupportable to him.

After the death of my sister, some years had to elapse before we could
bear to see charades again.

On May 25 my husband had the pleasure of bringing home from the railway
station Mr. Appleton, editor of the "Academy," for whom he had a great
regard. His notes say:--

"We passed a very pleasant evening, and did not go to bed till after

"26th. Walked with Mr. Appleton to Pré-Charmoy in the morning. In the
afternoon took him to Autun and showed him the Roman arches, the Gothic
walls, the cathedral, the Chemin des Tours, etc., etc. A very pleasant
day. We got home in time for dinner, found the boys at home, and talked
till one in the morning.

"27th. Took Mr. Appleton to the railway in the morning, with regrets,
and a certain sadness on account of his health."

Mr. Appleton was on his way to Egypt by his doctor's advice. He was
singularly amiable and sympathetic. He thought, and said simply, that
very likely he had not long to live, and dared not marry on that
account, though he often felt solitary. He suffered from asthma, and
could only sleep with the windows of his bedroom wide open, and a bright
wood fire burning in the chimney.

He had promised to pay us another visit if he were spared, but alas! we
never saw him again.

As the biographies advanced, the author grew uncertain about the title
he would give them. It could not be "Celebrated Frenchmen," because some
of them would not exactly answer to the qualification. He had thought of
"Earnest Frenchmen," but Mr. Seeley objected, and said, "The word
'earnest' has got spoilt. It was used over and over again till it got to
sound like cant, and then people began to laugh at it. How would 'Modern
Frenchmen' do?" It was deemed a perfectly suitable title, and given to
the book.

At the end of the summer Mr. Seeley and his wife paid us a flying visit
on their way back from Switzerland. It was a great pleasure to see them

Shortly after them M. Brunet-Debaines came, and I could not help
directing my husband's attention to the simplicity of his arrangements
for working from nature; a small stool, upon which was fixed a canvas or
a drawing-board, and a color-box, were all he required; however, I was
told that "wants varied with individuals."

Hitherto Mr. Hamerton's plan about painting had been to begin several
pictures at once, to allow them to dry; but now he was sick of remaining
so long over the same pieces of work, and he decided to paint only two
pictures at a time, and to use drying materials.

He had succeeded in mastering the technicality of charcoal drawing, and
had made an arrangement with the Autotype Company for the reproduction
of some drawings in this medium.



"Marmorne."--Paris International Exhibition.--"Modern Frenchmen."
--Candidature to the Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Arts.--The Bishop of
Antun.--The "Life of Turner."

The important literary works undertaken by Mr. Hamerton in the year 1878
were "Modern Frenchmen" and a "Life of Turner."

The artistic work remained unsatisfactory to the severe self-criticism
of the artist, who kept destroying picture after picture,
notwithstanding his serious studies and experiments in various modes and
methods of painting. He succeeded better with charcoals and monochromes,
and sent several finished subjects to be reproduced by the Autotype
Company. Mr. S. Palmer wrote about it: "If I had twenty years before me,
I should like to spend them on monochromes and _etching_."

In the same letter he went on:--

"Life being spared, your 'Marmorne,' the fame of which had already
arrived, is the next reading treat on my list. You call it your 'little
book,' a recommendation to me, for, with few exceptions, I have found
small books and small pictures the most beautiful, and I doubt not that
you know better than myself how much almost all three-volume novels
(including Scott's) would be improved, _as works of art_, by
condensation into one.

"Both yourself and Mrs. Hamerton are often mentally present with us
here: the evening of our first, and, alas! only meeting is among the
vivid pleasures of memory, and a repetition is a cherished pleasure of
_hope_. I will only add that I fear you are killing yourself with
overwork, and that you should put yourself under a repressive domestic

Some time before, my husband had received from G. H. Lewes a letter with
this address: "Mr. Adolphus Segrave, care of P. G. Hamerton, Esq.,
Pré-Charmoy, Autun." George Eliot and Mr. Lewes had been reading
"Marmorne," and had never entertained the slightest doubt about the
authorship, though the book was published under the assumed name of
Adolphus Segrave. The story had been greatly appreciated by both of
them, and especially the style in which it was told. Such high praise
was in accordance with what Mr. Palmer had previously said to Mr.
Seeley; namely, that "he considered Mr. Hamerton as the first
prose-writer of his time."

It may be remembered that a cousin of my husband's, Mr. H. Milne, had
called upon us at Innistrynich, and had since bought his little
property. He heard of our last visit to Yorkshire, and, not aware of his
relative's trouble in regard to railway travelling, had felt hurt at his
apparent neglect. Luckily my husband heard of it through his Aunt Susan,
and immediately wrote to explain matters. Mr. H. Milne, who had known
all about the pecuniary situation, now answered:--

"I can assure you that it is very pleasing to me to know that your
career has been so successful as to enable you to give your sons an
education to fit them to grapple with the difficulties people have to
meet with nowadays to make them comfortable, and to do so is all the
more satisfactory when accomplished by their own exertions. My mother
[the lady who served as model and suggestion for Mrs. Ogden in
'Marmorne'] still retains unimpaired all her faculties, and looks much
the same as when you were here. We shall celebrate her eighty-sixth
birthday on March 15. She really is wonderful, and a marvel to every
one, and particularly so to her doctor, who on no occasion has ever
prevailed on her to take one drop of medicine, notwithstanding he
persists in coming to see her twice a week--for what reasons seems quite
past my mother's comprehension."

The pecuniary situation had certainly improved, which was a relief to my
husband, for his children were growing up, and losses due to non-
remunerative work and ill-health had to be gradually made good. There
seemed to be a fate adverse to his making money, even by his most
successful works. Here is "Marmorne" as an example, published in
America, in England, in France, both in Hachette's "Bibliothèque des
meilleurs Romans Étrangers," and as a feuilleton in the "Temps," also in
the Tauchnitz collection, unanimously well received by the press; said
to be "_le_ roman de l'année" by the "Revue des Deux Mondes," and still
bringing considerably less than £200 to the author's purse. It was a
great disappointment to the publishers also. Roberts Brothers wrote: "Of
'Marmorne' we have only sold 2,000 copies; there ought to have been
10,000 sold;" and Mr. Blackwood said: "The sales have been rather
disappointing to us after the attention and favorable impression the
work attracted; we had looked for a larger and more remunerative

The character of the scenery in the Autunois pleased Mr. Hamerton more
and more, though it lacked the grandeur of real mountains. He was
particularly sensitive to the beauty of its color, which reminded him
sometimes of the Scotch Highlands, and was said to be very like that of
the Roman Campagna in summer-time. Such notes as the following are
frequent in his diary:--

"January 11, 1878. Went to Fontaine la Mère; beautiful drive the whole
way. Was delighted with the Titian-like quality of the landscape. Much
of the sylvan scenery reminded me of Ruysdaël. Took five sketches."

Throughout this year my husband gave a great deal of his time to his
aunt's affairs, which were in a deplorable state, owing to the
dishonesty of her lawyers; accounts for several years past had to be
gone over, cleared up, and settled, and at so great a distance the
proceedings involved a heavy correspondence. However, the help given was
efficacious, and Miss Hamerton's independence was secured in the end. In
the summer Gilbert had to relinquish the river-baths that he enjoyed so
much. In the two preceding years he had remarked that he was often
unwell and agitated after a swim, but had kept hoping that the effect
might be transitory; it was, however, now renewed with growing intensity
every time he took a cold bath, so that, with much regret, he had to
give them up. He used to say with a shade of melancholy, that we must
resign ourselves to the gradual deprivation of all the little pleasures
of existence,--even of the most innocent ones,--but that the hardest for
him to renounce would be work.

Having borne the journey to England in 1877 without bad results to his
health, he now decided to attempt a visit to the Paris International
Exhibition. He was very anxious to ascertain the present state of the
fine arts all over the globe, and if possible to make the best of this
opportunity. On the day appointed for starting, and whilst he was
packing up, Mr. R. L. Stevenson just happened to call without previous
notice. What a bright, winning youth he was! what a delightful talker!
there was positively a sort of radiance about him, as if emanating from
his genius. We had never seen him before; we only knew his works, but he
seemed like a friend immediately. Listening to his fluent, felicitous
talk, his clear and energetic elocution, his original ideas and veins of
thought, was a rare treat, and his keen enjoyment of recovered health
and active life was really infectious. He could not remain seated, but
walked and smoked the whole of the afternoon he remained with us.
Knowing that he had lately been dangerously ill, I ventured to express
my fear that the smoking of endless cigarettes might prove injurious.
"Oh, I don't know," he said; "and yet I dare say it is; but you see,
Mrs. Hamerton, as there are only a very limited number of things
enjoyable to an individual in this world, _these_ must be enjoyed to the
utmost; and if I knew that smoking would kill me, still I would not give
it up, for I shall surely die of _something_, very likely not so
pleasant." Although the shutters were closed in all the rooms that were
not to be used in our absence, they were opened again to let him see the
etchings on the walls; for he had a fine taste, not only for the
beauties of nature, but also for artistic achievements. We felt it most
vexatious to be obliged to leave that very evening, but my husband
managed to remain with Mr. Stevenson till the last available minute, by
asking me to pack up his things for him. I remember that after reading
the "Inland Voyage" I had told my husband how I had been charmed by it,
and had begged to be given everything which came from the same pen; but
at that time we were afraid that such a delicate and refined talent
would not bring popularity to the author; happily we were
mistaken,--perhaps only to a certain extent, however,--as his most
successful works belong to a later and quite different genre.

At the recommendation of M. Rajon, we went to a quaint little hotel in
Paris, near La Muette, well known to artists and men of letters, and
patronized, for its quietness, by some of the most famous, being usually
let in apartments to persons who brought their own servants with them.
Its situation, close to the Bois de Boulogne, made our returns from the
exhibition easy and pleasant--so easy, indeed, that when we had to spend
the evening in Paris, and could find no carriage to take us there, we
merely went back to our headquarters, where we had the choice of
railway, tramways, and omnibuses for every part of Paris.

According to our promise we went to meet M. Rajon at his studio, and
amongst other things saw a beautiful portrait of him, which, however,
was so much flattered that for some time I hesitated about the likeness.
He was represented on horseback, with a long flowing cloak, and a
sombrero casting a strong shadow over one of his eyes, which was
afflicted with a weakness of the eyelid, which kept dropping down so
frequently that the pupil was seldom seen for any time; the horse was a
thoroughbred; two magnificent greyhounds (the originals we could admire,
at rest upon a raised platform of carved oak and red cushions) ran
alongside of him, and this tall-looking, dignified, romantic rider
was--little, spare, merry M. Rajon. Gossip whispered that he had been
somewhat intoxicated by his sudden fame, and had been, for a while,
desirous of showing off, so that he had brought back from England the
thoroughbred and the greyhounds to be noticed in the "Allée des
Cavaliers," but that not having been accustomed to sit a horse before,
his thoroughbred had flung him against a tree so severely that the taste
for equitation had gone out of him for ever. Be this as it may, M. Rajon
was far from being vainglorious; he knew his value as an artist, frankly
and openly enjoyed his success, but remained simple, urbane, and
courteous. He told us that he could only give _two hours_ a day to
original work, and that his mother (a simple woman for whom art remained
an incomprehensible mystery) could not admit this limitation. At that
time he was spending money rather lavishly--giving _fêtes_ in his studio
to celebrated actors and actresses, musicians, singers, poets, and
artists, and the expenses were sometimes a cause of momentary
embarrassment; then his simple mother would say: "Why need you trouble
yourself about it? You work very little--then work twice as much, which
won't tire you, and you'll have twice as much money." She could not, he
said, be made to understand that this prolonged labor would be
worthless, because the inspiring flame would be burned out.

Mr. Woolner arrived in Paris a few days after Mr. Hamerton, and they
spent a whole day together in the sculpture galleries of the Louvre. Mr.
Woolner remembered that old Madame Mohl, having read my husband's works,
had expressed a wish to renew the acquaintance of former days, and would
be glad to see us both at tea-time--any day that might suit us.

A week later we called upon the wonderfully preserved old lady, who was
delighted to receive a visit from a rising celebrity--though a host of
celebrities had passed through her drawing-room. She complained of being
_délaisée_ by the young generation. Still, she remained lively and
gracious; her quick intelligence and ready memory were unimpaired by her
great age, and it was with eagerness that she seized upon another
opportunity for narrating her treasured-up stories of renowned people,
particularly of the two Ampères, whom she had known intimately. She was
still living in the same house that they had inhabited together, when
Mr. Mohl kindly gave them the benefit of his more practical sense in
household management. Madame Mohl was rather severe about Jean Jacques
Ampère, whom she called a "young coxcomb," and "an egotist." She was not
sentimental, and had no sympathy with or pity for the love so long
faithful to Madame Récamier; nay, I thought I could detect in her
strictures the unconscious feminine jealousy of a lady whose salon had
been forsaken by one of its "lions" for a more attractive one, and who
had resented it bitterly. But André Marie Ampère she praised
unreservedly, with the warmth of most exalted admiration.

It was very funny to see the little lady curled up on a couch, propped
by cushions, running over her strings of memories with pleased alacrity,
then jumping down in her stockings to pour out tea for her guests in
utter disregard of her shoes, which lay idly by the sofa, even when we
took leave of her; and as she accompanied us to the door, the white
stockings conspicuously displayed themselves at every step, without the
slightest attempt at concealment. (At that time black stockings would
have been thought an abomination.)

Almost every morning saw Mr. Hamerton in the exhibition before the crowd
of visitors arrived, so that he was able to study in peace and
profitably. He had had a card-case, and cards of a convenient size and
thickness, made especially to take notes upon, and he devoted a separate
card to every picture worth studying. It was a very convenient plan,
with alphabetical classification for references; every time he went he
took with him a fresh supply, and was not encumbered with those he had
already filled up.

Generally some etcher met him by appointment, and together they selected
pictures to be reproduced for the "Portfolio." His evenings were mostly
taken up by invitations; and it was well for his wife that she had been
mercifully exempted by nature from jealous tendencies, for the ladies
paid the author of "Marmorne" such a tribute of admiration that he was
sometimes abashed by their fervor, yet never intoxicated. Friends had
repeatedly told him that he could win the hearts of men, and if women
dared not say as much of themselves, they let him see that he exercised
a great and healthy influence over them too; he also enjoyed their
society, and though he did not mean it to be a flattery, they accepted
it as such.

Amongst artists and men of letters he was acknowledged as a writer of
genuine worth and extensive acquirements. There is a proof of it in a
letter addressed to him by M. Véron, editor of "L'Art," on merely
_guessing_ that Mr. Hamerton must be the writer of a criticism of his
"Esthétique" in the "Saturday Review."

"PARIS, 11 9_bre_, 1878.

"CHER MONSIEUR,--On me communique une revue très remarquable de la
'Saturday Review' sur mon 'Esthétique.' Ce qui distingue cet article
c'est une sérieuse connaissance du sujet et une puissance d'analyse des
plus rares. Cela ne ressemble en rien à ces généralités vagues et
flottantes dont se contentent la plupart des écrivains qui font de la
critique dans la revue des journaux. Aussi ai-je éprouvé à être loué par
un pareil homme une jouissance infiniment plus vive que celle
qu'auraient pu me procurer des éloges beaucoup plus hyperboliques, mais
moins compétents.

"Cet homme, je suppose que c'est vous. Si je ne me trompe pas,
permettez-moi de vous dire que je me sens singulièrement heureux de me
rencontrer en fait d'esthétique avec un écrivain capable de raisonner
sur ces questions comme l'a fait l'auteur de l'article de la 'Saturday

More acquaintances amongst artists were made during his stay in Paris,
including Bracquemond, Protais, Feyen-Perrin, Waltner, Lhermitte, and

Having finished his work in the exhibition, my husband went home to
write a notice of it for the "International Review." In the course of
November his eldest son Stephen passed a successful examination for the
second part of the Baccalauréat-ès-Lettres, and as the boy was now to
study at home, his father frequently employed him to write letters under
his dictation. It was very good practice for Stephen, and spared his
father's time for painting and drawing.

At the beginning of 1879, Mr. R. L. Stevenson had sent a manuscript to
Mr. Hamerton, with a request that he would read it, and recommend it to
a publisher if it were thought worth the trouble. It was appreciated,
and a successful sale expected. In the interest of Mr. Stevenson, my
husband advised him to sacrifice the idea of immediate payment, and to
retain the copyright, hoping that it would prove more advantageous.
However, the young author preferred the ready cash, which he may have
been in need of; nevertheless acknowledging afterwards that it would
have been preferable to have acted according to the sound advice given
at the time.

As our daughter was fast developing a talent for music, her father felt
tempted to resume the practice of the violin regularly, and they often
played duets and sonatas together; but the difficulty--nay, the
impossibility--of finding time for the prosecution of all the studies he
had undertaken was a source of oft-recurring discouragement, because
unavoidably he had to replace one by another now and then, it being
impracticable to carry them on _de front_. Sometimes he complained,
good-humoredly, that I rather discouraged than encouraged him about
music--which was certainly true, for well knowing that to become a
violinist of any skill involves years and years of regular and steady
practice, I was adverse to this additional strain, leading to no
adequate reward. I well knew it could not be sustained, and would have
to give way to pressure from other quarters--writing, painting, etching,
or reading. The study of Italian had also been vigorously resumed, so
that in the diary I see this note regularly: "Practised Spohr and
Kreutzer, or Beethoven. Read Dante." I also find the following in April:
"Spent the greater part of the day in planning my new novel with Charles
(his brother-in-law). Worked on plan of my novel, and modified it by
talking it over with my wife," I did not like the plan, which, in my
opinion, went too much into the technicalities and details of a young
nobleman's education; I feared they might prove tedious to the reader;
in consequence there is a new entry a week later: "Improved plan of
novel with wife. Now reserve mornings exclusively for it, or it will
never be finished at all. Make this a fixed rule."

At the end of April some monochromes had been sent for reproduction, but
he was greatly disappointed with them, as may be seen by the diary:--

"May 31. Had a great deal of trouble this month about reproductions of
drawings in autotype. Dissatisfied with the reproductions of the oil
monochromes, which came coarse, with thousands of false specks of light.
The surface of a drawing should be _mate_ for autotype reproduction.
This led me to make various experiments of various kinds, and the latest
conclusion I have arrived at is something like drawing on wood; that is,
pencil or chalk, going into detail, and sustained by washes of Indian
ink, and relieved by touches of Chinese white. The whole business
hitherto has been, full of difficulties of various kinds."

"June 11. The proofs of the autotypes on white paper with brown
pigment arrived to-day. Determined to have second negatives taken
of all of them, and to repaint them on the positives."

To turn his thoughts away from his repeated disappointments in artistic
attempts, and to a greater disappointment in his novel--which he had
entirely destroyed after bestowing upon it two months of labor--Gilbert
began to scheme a boat, a river yacht. It was the best of diversions for
him, as he took as much pleasure in the planning of a boat as in the use
of it. This new one was to be a marvel of safety and speed, but
especially of convenience, for it would be made to carry several
passengers for a month's cruise, with means of taking meals on board,
and of sleeping under a tent. Of course Mr. Seeley had been informed of
the scheme, and wrote in answer: "Don't fail to send me notice when your
boat may be expected on the Thames, that I may rouse the population of
Kingston to give you an appropriate reception."

Another novel was begun, but it was still to be the story of a young
French nobleman's life, spent alternately in France and in England,
and in the manner of "Tom Jones." Meanwhile "Modern Frenchmen" was
selling pretty steadily, but slowly, the public being mostly
unacquainted with the names, though Mr. G. H. Lewes, Professor
Seeley, Mr. Lockhart, and many others, had a very high opinion
of the work. Mr. Lockhart wrote about the biography of Régnault:--

"I have by me at this moment your life of Henri Régnault. I trust you
will not consider it an impertinence if I tell you how it has delighted
me, both as a man and a painter. I have the most intense admiration for
Régnault, and in reading his biography it has rejoiced me to find the
author in such thorough sympathy with his subject. Biographies of
artists, as a rule, are the most disappointing of books to artists. This
is indeed an exception, and I most heartily congratulate you on your
very subtle and delicate picture of a noble life.

"I was in Granada with Fortuny when the news of Régnault's
death came. I shall never forget the impression it made on us all. The
fall of Paris, the surrender of Napoleon, all the misfortunes of France
were as nothing compared to this.

"When I first had the book I thought you a little unjust to Fortuny, and
was prepared to indorse Régnault's estimate of him. Since then I have
seen the thirty Fortunys at the International Exhibition, and they have
moderated my enthusiasm, and brought me back to sober orthodoxy, to
Velasquez and Rembrandt."

Mr. G. H. Lewes also wrote:--

"We left London before your book arrived, but I sent for it, and Mrs.
Lewes has been reading it aloud to me the last few evenings. It has
charmed us both, and we regret that so good a scheme, so well carried
out, should in the nature of the case be one doomed to meet with small
public response. No reader worth having can read it without interest and
profit, but _il s'agit de trouver des lecteurs_.

"My son writes in great delight with it, and I have recommended it to
the one person we have seen in our solitude; but I fear you will find the
deaf adder of a public deafer than usual to your charming. A volume of
biographies of well-known Frenchmen would have but a slender chance of
success--and a volume on the unknown would need to be spiced with
religion or politics--_et fortement épicé_--to attract more than a
reader here and there.

"We are here for five weeks in our Paradise _without_ the serpent
(symbol of visitors!); but alas! without the health which would make the
long peace one filled with work. As for me, I vegetate mostly. I get up
at six to stroll out for an hour before breakfast, leaving Madonna in
bed with Dante or Homer, and quite insensible to the attractions of
before-breakfast walks. With my cigar I get a little reading done, and
sometimes write a little; but the forenoon is usually sauntered and
pottered away. When Madonna has satisfied her inexhaustible craving for
knowledge till nearly lunch-time, we play lawn-tennis. Then drive out
for two or three hours. Music and books till dinner. After cigar and nap
she reads to me till ten, and I finish by some light work till eleven.
But I hope in a week or two to get stronger and able to work again, the
more so as 'the night in which no man can work' is fast approaching."

Mr. R. Seeley agreed with Mr. Hamerton's opinion that "Modern Frenchmen"
was one of his best works, "admirably written, full of information and

Professor Seeley had also said: "I wish English people would take an
interest in such books, but I fear they won't. There ought to be many
such books written."

Mr. G. H. Lewes suggested that the other biographies in preparation
should be published separately in some popular magazine; but the author,
having been discouraged by the coolness of the reception, gave up the
idea of a sequel to what had already appeared, and the material he had
been gathering on Augustin Thierry, General Castellane, and Arago
remained useless.

The boat in progress had been devised in view of a voyage on the Rhône,
for Mr. Hamerton, who greatly admired the noble character of the scenery
in the Rhône Valley, had longed for the opportunity of making it known
by an important illustrated work. He submitted the plan to Mr. Seeley,
who answered:--

"I like your Rhône scheme; it is a grand subject, but a book on the
Rhône should begin at the Rhône glacier and end at the Mediterranean.
Have your ideas enlarged to that extent. One cannot well omit the upper
part, which the English who travel in Switzerland know so well. The
Rhône valley is very picturesque, and the exit of the Rhône from the
Lake of Geneva is a thing never to be forgotten. But don't go there to
get drowned; it is horribly dangerous."

For various reasons--amongst others, the time required and the
outlay--the idea of the book entertained by Mr. Hamerton differed
considerably from that of Mr. Seeley; it was explained at length, and
finally accepted in these words: "I think your plan of a voyage on the
navigable Rhône, with prologue and epilogue, will do well."

This plan, however, was never realized, owing to insurmountable
obstacles; it was taken up again and again, studied, modified, and
regretfully relinquished after several years for that of the Saône, much
more practicable, but still not without its difficulties.

And now what might have been a great event in the life of Mr.
Hamerton--namely, the possibility of his election to the Watson-Gordon
Chair of Fine Arts in Edinburgh, began to occupy his mind. He was
strongly urged by his friends to come forward as a candidate, but he
hesitated a good deal for several reasons, the most important being the
necessity of two places of residence, for he would not have inflicted
upon my mother and myself the pain of absolute separation. Still, there
were, as it seemed to me, in case of success, some undeniable
advantages--first of all a fixed income, and the possibility of seeing,
in the course of the necessary journeys, what might be of interest in
London and Paris, as well as the possibility of attending more
efficaciously to the "Portfolio." Mr. Seeley, who had always endeavored
to tempt his editor over to England, declared himself delighted at the
prospect. He had formerly sent such hints as these: "I wish you had a
neat flying machine and could pop over and do the business yourself." Or
at Cowes: "I thought of you, and said to myself, how much more
reasonable it would be for Hamerton to have a snug little house here,
and a snug little sailing-boat, instead of living at that preposterous
Autun. How he would enjoy dancing over these waves, which make me sick
to look at them; and how pleasant it would be to tempt him to pay
frequent visits to Kingston! There are delightful cottages and villages
to sketch in the Isle of Wight, and charming woodland scenery in the New
Forest." Again: "When our new house is dry enough then you will be
obliged to come over. It will be better than seeing the Paris
Exhibition. And when you are once in England you will take a cottage at
Cowes, and buy a boat, and never go back to Autun."

The idea of becoming a candidate was first suggested by T. Woolner after
a journey to Edinburgh, where he had heard some names put forward for
the Watson-Gordon chair, and amongst them that of Mr. Hamerton, which
had seemed to him the most popular. On his part, he had done what he
could to strengthen this favorable opinion by spreading what he knew of
his friend, not only as an artist and cultured man of letters, but also
as a sociable conversationalist, capable of enjoying intercourse with
his fellow-men in moments of leisure, and he took care to let my husband
know that this point was of importance--the new professor being expected
to exercise hospitality, so as to create a sort of centre for the
gathering of art-lovers. He said he had heard of a good income, of light
duties, and of the almost certainty of success in case Mr. Hamerton
should present himself.

Professor Masson had also suggested to Mr. Macmillan that "many persons
in Edinburgh would like to secure the best man in Mr. Hamerton," and Mr.
Craik wrote about it: "You would be an ornament to the University, and
might do useful and important work there. For many reasons the Scotch
professorships are enviable, for this particularly--that the session is
a short one, and would require short residence. It will be pleasant for
all of us, your friends, if you go to Edinburgh, for it will compel you
to come to England and be seen."

Mr. Seeley was also of opinion that "no man ought to be wholly dependent
upon literary labor. It tries the head too much."

All the friends who were consulted by my husband answered that they
considered him perfectly adapted for the situation--apart from friendly
motives. Mr. Alfred Hunt wrote: "I would be very glad to do everything
to forward your election. I am indebted to you for a large amount of
gratification and profit which I have derived from your books; I am sure
you will allow me to say that I am often very far from agreeing with
you," etc.

R. L. Stevenson wrote:--

"Monterey, Monterey Co., California.

"My dear Mr. Hamerton,--Your letter to my father was forwarded to me by
mistake, and by mistake I opened it. The letter to myself has not yet
reached me. This must explain my own and my father's silence. I shall
write by this or next post, to the only friends I have, who, I think,
would have an influence, as they are both professors. I regret
exceedingly that I am not in Edinburgh, as I could perhaps have done
more, and I need not tell you that what I might do for you in the matter
of the election is neither from friendship nor gratitude, but because
you are the only man (I beg your pardon) worth a damn. I shall write to
a third friend, now I think of it, whose father will have great

"I find here (of all places in the world) your 'Essays on Art,' which I
have read with signal interest. I believe I shall dig an essay of my own
out of one of them, for it set me thinking; if mine could only produce
yet another in reply we could have the marrow cut between us.

"I hope, my dear sir, you will not think badly of me for my long
silence. My head has scarce been on my shoulders. I had scarce recovered
from a prolonged fit of useless ill health than I was whirled over here
double-quick time and by cheapest conveyance.

"I have been since pretty ill, but pick up, though still somewhat of a
massy ruin. If you would view my countenance aright, Come--view it by
the pale moonlight. But that is on the mend. I believe I have now a
distant claim to tan.

"A letter will be more than welcome in this distant clime where I have
a box at the post-office--generally, I regret to say, empty. Could your
recommendation introduce me to an American publisher? My next book I
should really try to get hold of here, as its interest is international,
and the more I am in this country, the more I understand the weight of
your influence. It is pleasant to be thus most at home abroad, above all
when the prophet is still not without honor in his own land."

Mr. W. Wyld had also written: "I need not say I heartily wish you
success--and the more so that it would have the result of my seeing you
at least twice a year, a pleasure I shall anxiously look forward to; for
the older I grow the more I yearn for that sort of communion of thought
which is scarcely ever to be met with in the ordinary way of existence
... I have no one I can discuss art with ... and as for philosophy--"

Miss Susan Hamerton also pressed her nephew to offer himself for the
chair, and indulged in bright hopes of frequent meetings.

The result was that, after a long talk with me on March 21, 1880, my
husband determined to offer himself as a candidate, and although he did
it without much enthusiasm, he began immediately to prepare himself for
the new duties that would be involved. First of all, he told me that his
knowledge of the history of art was insufficient, and would require
additional researches. His plan was to go to Greece first, then to
Italy; another year he would go to Holland and Belgium, then to Spain--I
began to be afraid of this programme, as I reflected that the income
from the professorship would hardly cover our travelling expenses, and
that very little time would be left for literary work if the lectures
required so much preparation; however, I only begged him to wait for the
result of the election before he undertook anything in view of it. He
agreed, and turned his thoughts towards the "Graphic Arts," and a new
edition of "Etching and Etchers."

In the beginning of April, Mr. Hamerton attended with his family the
wedding of Charles Gindriez, his brother-in-law, and was well pleased
with the young lady, who thus became a new member in the gatherings at
La Tuilerie.

Three days later, his elder son Stephen started for Algiers, where he
had an appointment at the Lycée.

For some time past, the two great political parties at Autun had been at
daggers drawn, and the proprietors of the Conservative paper,
"L'Autunois," had brought from Paris a skilful and unscrupulous
political writer to crush its opponents and to effect the ruin of the
rival paper, "La République du Morvan," by fair means or foul. The first
stabs dealt by the new pen were directed against notable residents, and
being a good fencer and a good shot--in fact, a sort of bravo--M.
Tremplier, the wielder of the pen, proclaimed loudly after every libel
that he was ready to maintain what he advanced at the point of the
sword, and to give a meeting to all adversaries. Unacquainted with the
real social standing of Mr. Hamerton in Autun, but knowing that he was
Président Honoraire du Cercle National, a Liberal institution patronized
by the Sous-Préfet and Republican Deputies, M. Tremplier thought it
would be a master-stroke to defame his character by accusing him of
being the author of some anonymous articles against the clergy which had
appeared in "La République du Morvan." Though greatly irritated by this
unfair attack, my husband contrived to keep his temper, and simply
denied the accusation. This denial was indorsed by the editor of the
newspaper in which the articles had been published, and the disagreeable
incident was expected to end there. But this would not have satisfied
the truculent M. Tremplier, and in the next number of his paper he
expressed in arrogant terms an utter disbelief in Mr. Hamerton's denial,
and venomously attacked him for his nationality, literary pretensions,
etc., winding up his diatribe, as usual, by a challenge. This was too
much, and my husband resolved to start for Autun immediately, and to
horsewhip the scoundrel as he deserved. Mr. Pickering, an English
artist, and friend of ours, who happened to be at La Tuilerie, offered
to assist my husband by keeping the ground clear while he administered
the punishment--for M. Tremplier, notwithstanding his bravado, deemed it
prudent to surround himself with a bevy of officers, and was seldom to
be met alone. I was strongly opposed to this course, and at last I
prevailed upon my husband to abandon it by representing that he was
being drawn into a snare, for no doubt M. Tremplier was only waiting for
the attempt at violence he had provoked to get his victim seized and
imprisoned, so as to be able ever after to stigmatize him with the
terrible phrase, "C'est un homme qui a fait de la prison." This would be
undeniable, and as people never inquire _why_ "un homme a fait de la
prison," it is as well to avoid it altogether. We agreed upon a
different policy, and resolved to prosecute the "Autunois" for libel,
and immediately set off to retain a well-known advocate, who belonged to
the Conservative party, and was said to be one of the proprietors of the
"Autunois." He knew my husband personally, and also knew that he was
incapable of having written the anonymous articles, still less capable
of telling a lie, and as we felt sure of his own honorable character, we
boldly asked him to defend a political opponent. This was putting him in
a very delicate situation, and he complained of it at once; but my
husband insisted, and said that he could not fairly shun this duty.
Vainly did this gentleman, supported by the Président du Tribunal and
other notabilities of the same party, try to dissuade Mr. Hamerton from
seeking redress, by saying that "no one attached the slightest
importance to such libels," "that he was too much above M. Tremplier to
resent anything that came from his mercenary pen," "that his character
was unimpeachable," etc. He was even warned that he had not the remotest
chance of a verdict in his favor, because he could not prove that he was
not the author of the objectionable articles. "I should have thought
that M. Tremplier would be called upon to prove that I had written
them," he answered. "Anyhow, if I can't count upon justice here, I will
appeal to the court at Dijon." Seeing that his resolution was not to be
shaken, he was asked what would satisfy him, and he answered, "An
apology from M. Tremplier in the 'Autunois.'" And M. Tremplier had to
submit to the orders of the all-powerful keepers of the purse-strings:
he did it with a bad grace--but he had to do it.

One of the articles attributed to Mr. Hamerton had been directed against
the Bishop of Autun, whom he highly esteemed, and there was much
curiosity as to the opinion of the prelate himself. That opinion was
soon publicly expressed by a visit from this dignitary of the Roman
Catholic Church to the Protestant tenant of La Tuilerie.

On receiving Monseigneur Perraud, I thanked him first for his good
opinion, of which I had never doubted, knowing him to be a reader of my
husband's works, and also because there was no fear that a man of his
culture could believe the anonymous articles to be written by the author
of the biography of l'Abbé Perreyve in "Modern Frenchmen."

Monseigneur Perraud answered that my husband's character and literary
talent were so much above question that he would never have given a
thought to this affair had it not been that the "Autunois" was often
called "Le Journal de l'Evêché," though in fact the Bishop had no more
to do with it than with its editor, M. Tremplier, whom he had never
consented to receive. But unwilling to allow the possibility of any
doubt to remain in other people's minds, he had taken this opportunity
of becoming personally acquainted with my husband, and of giving a proof
of his high regard for him.

Monseigneur Perraud had a reputation for freezing dignity which kept
many people aloof; but he talked quite freely with my husband. Dignity
he certainly possessed in an unusual degree, and the same might be said
of Mr. Hamerton, but it was no bar to interesting intercourse nor to
brotherly sympathy, as we found afterwards in sorrowful circumstances.

This first visit certainly enhanced the high opinion which each had
formed of the other, and subsequent meetings confirmed the interest they
found in each other's views and sentiments.

I mentioned Mr. Pickering in connection with the affair of the
"Autunois," and it may now be explained that after reading "Round my
House," he had fancied he should like to see the scenery described in
the book, as it would probably afford him paintable subjects. Although
the name of the neighboring town was not given, and though great changes
had been made by the construction of a railway since the publication of
the book, Mr. Pickering lighted upon Autun as the very place he was in
search of. He soon made my husband's acquaintance, and a friendship
between them was rapidly established.

Mr. Woolner, who had kept up for some months a brisk correspondence in
behalf of Mr. Hamerton's candidature, now heard that matters were not
going so smoothly as he had expected. He was told that the income would
not come up to the sum stated at first; that the formation of an art
museum was contemplated, in which case the duties of forming and keeping
it would devolve upon the professor. There was also a desire that the
students should receive technical instruction; and, lastly, it was
rumored that forty lectures a year would be required. In fact, Mr.
Hamerton began to regret that he had offered himself for the post
without knowing exactly what he would be expected to do.

Whilst in this frame of mind he was advised to go to Edinburgh in order
to call upon each of the electors. No one acquainted with his character
could have imagined for an instant that he would comply. "The electors,"
he said to me, "must be acquainted with my works; I have sent nearly
fifty testimonials given by eminent artists, men of letters, and
publishers; I consider this as sufficient to enable the electors to
judge of the capacities for which an art professor ought to be chosen.
If these are judged insufficient, my presence could not give them more

I find this simple entry in the diary: "July 20, 1880. Got news that I
was not elected;" and though he may have regretted the time wasted in
this fruitless attempt, I am convinced that he experienced a sensation
of delightful relief when no longer dreading encroachments upon his
liberty to work as he thought fit. [Footnote: It was also Mr. R.
Seeley's opinion when he wrote: "You have felt so much doubt as to the
effect of such a change of life upon your health that the decision may
come as a relief to you."] After all, there remained to him as a lasting
compensation the tokens of flattering regard for his character and of
appreciation of his talents given in the numerous testimonials by such
eminent persons as Mr. R. Browning, Sir F. Leighton, Sir J. E. Millais,
Sir John Gilbert, Mr. T. Woolner, Mr. G. F. Watts, Professor Seeley,
Professor Sidney Colvin, Professor Oliver, Mr. Mark Pattison, Mr. S.
Palmer, Mr. Orchardson, Mr. Marks, Mr. A. W. Hunt, Mr. Herkomer, Mr.
Vicat Cole, Mr. Alma Tadema, Sir G. Reid, Mr. W. E. Lockhart, Mr. J.
MacWhirter, Professor Legros, M. Paul Rajon, M. Leopold Flameng, etc.

The testimonials are too numerous to be given here, but they all agreed
in the expressed opinion that Mr. Hamerton would be "the right man in
the right place," or "the very man."

Although the "Life of Turner" had first appeared in the "Portfolio," it
was again well received by the public in book form, and greatly praised
by the press, particularly in America. The "Boston Courier" said:--

"We have found this volume thoroughly fascinating, and think that no
open-minded reader of 'Modern Painters' should neglect to read this
life. In it he will find Turner dethroned from the pinnacle of a
demi-god on which Ruskin had set him (greatly to the artist's
disadvantage); but he will also find him placed on another reasonably
high pedestal, where one may admire him intelligently and lovingly, in
spite of the defects in drawing, the occasional lapses in coloring,
and the other peculiarities which are made clear to his observation by
Mr. Hamerton's discussion."

He had found it a difficult subject to treat because of the paucity of
incidents in Turner's life; but the painter's genius had made so deep an
impression upon him in his earlier years that he had eagerly studied his
works and sought information about his personality from the friends who
had, at some time or other, been acquainted with the marvellous artist.
I believe that my husband hardly ever went to the National Gallery
without visiting the Turner Room, and that is saying much, for during
his sojourns in London he seldom missed going every day it was open, and
sometimes he went twice,--once in the morning, and again in the
afternoon. Great as was his admiration of Turner's oil pictures, I
believe it was equalled by his delight in the same master's water-colors
and drawings. When in the lower rooms, where they are exhibited, he
could hardly be prevailed upon to go upstairs again, and I had to plead
fatigue and hunger to recall him to the realities of life. Although his
appreciation of Constable was high, it could not be compared to what he
felt for Turner, because "Turner was so wide in range that he was the
opposite of Constable, whose art was the expression of intense affection
for one locality."



Third edition of "Etching and Etchers."--Kew.--"The Graphic
Arts."--"Human Intercourse."

Once rid of the perturbation occasioned by the affair of the election,
Mr. Hamerton was free to devote himself energetically to the preparation
of a new and splendid edition of "Etching and Etchers," for which he
spared neither thought nor pains,--being generously entrusted by Messrs.
Macmillan with the necessary funds, and given _carte blanche_ for the
arrangement. Mr. Craik had said, in a letter dated Jan. 10, 1880: "We
are disposed to make it a very fine book, and not to grudge the outlay.
We must leave all the details for you to arrange." In another, of May
29, he said again: "We are particularly anxious to make it a beautiful
book; and I think the plan of making each edition completely different
from the preceding, gives it an interest and value that will make the
book always sought after. The first edition is a scarce and valuable
book. The second will rise in value."

Being allowed to do exactly as he liked, the author of "Etching and
Etchers" set to his task with delightful anticipation of the result.

At the same time he was also giving a good deal of time to the
annotation of certain engravings and etchings presented by himself and
some friends to the Manchester Museum, in which he took great interest.

When the vacation brought the boys home in August, it was decided to
have a trial trip on the Saône in the "Morvandelle;" but after behaving
well enough on the water, she filled and sank at anchor whilst her
captain was quietly enjoying dinner with his sons at the nearest inn.
The boat being made of wood, and divided into a great many compartments
to hold stores and luggage, let the water into those compartments as the
wood dried and shrank. It became, therefore, necessary to exchange the
wooden tubes for iron ones, for it was a double boat. So the crew had to
come back home, and Mr. Hamerton sent to a periodical a relation of his
impressions and adventures in this brief voyage and shipwreck.

In the summer there was an exhibition at the Glasgow Institute of Fine
Arts, and my husband was asked to send something if possible; but being
almost overwhelmed with work, he was obliged to decline the invitation.
Mr. R. Walker, the secretary of the Institute, wrote to say how sorry he
was not to have his name in the catalogue, and added:--

"Our collection of etchings is very good, and during the short time
we have been open the people of Glasgow have learned more about
etching than ever they knew before. Your book has been a source of
infinite delight to many here. A short time ago we all hoped to have
you among us. The loss is ours. Sometimes I trust we may have the
pleasure of seeing you in Glasgow. You would find us not altogether
wanting in appreciation of what is right in art, and there is an
increasing number of people here who believe that ledgers are not the
only books worth studying."

Although the "Portfolio" was now generally acknowledged to be at the
head of artistic periodicals in England, it was the desire of both its
editor and publisher to improve it still further. In one of his letters
Mr. Craik had said: "What an important part the 'Portfolio' is playing!
I believe you are affecting the public, and compelling them to recognize
the best things in a way they never did before. I think your conduct of
the monthly admirable."

It was now proposed to add to its artistic value by giving more original
etchings. Hitherto the peculiar uncertainty of the art of etching had
hindered the realization of this desire, for there being no certainty
about the quality of an etching from a picture, the risk is immensely
increased when a commission is given for an original etching. The
celebrity of an etcher and his previous achievements can only give hopes
that he _may_ be successful once more, but these hopes are far from a
certainty. Even such artists as Rajon and Jacquemart,--to mention only
two of the most eminent,--who constantly delighted the lovers of art by
masterpieces of skill and artistic feeling,--and were, moreover,
painters themselves,--were not safe against failure, and repeated
failure, even in copying.

When a commission has been given to an artist, the stipulated price has
to be paid whether the result is a success or a failure, unless the
artist himself acknowledges the failure--a very rare occurrence; at best
he admits that some retouching is desirable, and consents to undertake
it; but too often with the result that the plate loses all freshness.

Such considerations, and many more, made it necessary for the publisher
and editor of the "Portfolio" to discuss the subject at length and
without hurry. In addition to the affairs of the "Portfolio," there was
the choice of illustrations for the book on the Graphic Arts, which was
to be published by Mr. Seeley, and for which the presence of the author
in London was almost a necessity.

It was then decided that, both our boys having situations, we would take
our daughter with us and seek for lodgings somewhere on the banks of the
Thames, probably at Kew. Mr. and Mrs. Seeley, with their usual kindness,
invited us to stay with them until we had found convenient

We started in October, and as soon as we reached Paris we heard from our
younger son Richard that he was far from pleased with his present
situation. Instead of having to devote only a few hours a day to
teaching English, as he had been promised, the whole of his time was
taken up by the usual drudgery which is the lot of an under-master, so
that he could not study for himself. The first thing his father did was
to set him free from that bondage, and to devise the best means to
enable him to pursue the study of painting which the boy wished to
follow as a profession. They went together to consult Jean Paul Laurens,
who said that the most efficacious way would be--not to study under one
master, but to go to one of Juan's ateliers, where students get the
benefit of sound advice from several leading artists. In conformity with
this counsel my husband saw M. Juan, and after learning from him the
names of the artists visiting the particular atelier where Richard was
to study, he got him recommended to Jules Lefebvre and to Gérôme by an
intimate friend.

Paul Rajon, as usual, did not fail to call upon us, and we were very
sorry to notice a great change for the worse in his appearance. He said
he had been very ill lately, and was still far from well; he seemed to
have lost all his buoyancy of spirits, and to look careworn. He alluded
to pecuniary difficulties resulting from the early death of his
brother-in-law, which left his sister, and a child I believe, entirely
dependent upon him. Without reckoning on adverse fortune or ill-health,
he had built himself a house with a fine studio at Auvers-sur-Oise, to
escape from the incessant interruptions to his work when in Paris. But
of course the outlay had been heavier than he had intended it to be, and
these cares made him rather anxious. Being very good friends, we had
formerly received confidences from him about the dissatisfaction created
by the loneliness of his home and the want of a strong affection--in
spite of his success in society and the flattering smiles and speeches
of renowned beauties. In answer to my suggestion that marriage would
perhaps give him what he wanted, he had answered: "No doubt; but where
shall I find the wife? The girl I introduce into society as _my_ wife
must be very beautiful, else what would society think of my taste as an
artist?... She must also be above the average in intelligence, to meet
with the _élite_ and keep her proper place; and lastly, she must also be
wealthy, for my earnings are not sufficient for the frame I desire to
show her in." He was quite serious, but I laughed and said: "I beg to
alter my opinion of your wants. The wife you describe would be the mere
satisfaction of your vanity, and if you were fortunate enough to meet
with the gifts of beauty, intelligence, and wealth in the same person it
would be very exacting to expect that in addition to all these she
should be domestic, to minister to your home comforts, and sufficiently
devoted for your need of affection."

"I told you I thought it very difficult," he sighed.

"If you take other people's opinion about the choice of a wife," my
husband said, "you are not ripe for matrimony; no man ought to get
married unless he feels that he cannot help it,--that he could not live
happily without the companionship of a particular woman."

There had been an interval of a few years between this conversation and
our present meeting; but M. Rajon had not forgotten it, for he said with
a shade of sadness: "It is now, Mrs. Hamerton, that I feel the want of a
domestic and devoted wife, such as you advised me to choose; but
marriage is out of the question. I am an invalid."

We tried to cheer him up, and my husband's serene philosophy seemed to
do him good. He repeated to Paul Rajon his usual comparison of the
events of life to a very good cup of coffee to which a pinch of salt is
always added before we are allowed to taste it. "Your reputation and
talent," he said, "make a capital cup of coffee; but your illness has
seasoned it with rather a heavy pinch of salt."

The journey to England was got through without any serious accident to
my husband's health, but we had to be very careful in adhering to our
rules of slow trains and night travelling and frequent stoppages.

It was the first visit of our daughter to England, and her father
watched her impressions with great interest. She spoke English timidly
and reluctantly; but Mrs. Seeley was so kindly encouraging that she
overcame her timidity.

Mr. Seeley received us in his pretty, newly built house at Kingston,
which, being quite in the country and very quiet, suited my husband's
tastes admirably. The proximity of a beautiful park was very tempting
for rambles, and when at leisure we much enjoyed going all together for
a stroll under its noble trees. Mr. Seeley and his friend sometimes went
off to London together in the morning, but it was more desirable for my
husband to go to town only in the afternoon, because he felt less and
less nervous as the day wore on, and was quite himself in the evening.

We left Kingston to go and stay for a few days with Mr. and Mrs.
Macmillan. The evenings after Mr. Macmillan's return from business were
very animated with conversation and music.

Sometimes Mr. Macmillan gave us some Scotch and Gaelic songs with
remarkable pathos and power; and invariably, after every one else had
retired, he remained talking intimately, often confidentially, with my
husband far into the night.

A pretty incident occurred before we left Knapdale. One afternoon we
found Mrs. Macmillan very busy putting the finishing touches to an
embroidered and be-ribboned baby's frock, intended as a present to her
husband's first grandchild, on his first visit to Knapdale, which was to
be on that very day. After dinner the little man made his appearance in
the decorated frock, and took his place upon his grandfather's
shoulders. Then we all formed a procession, headed by the still erect
form of the grandsire supporting the infant hope of the family, and
leading us--parents, relatives, and guests--to the cheerful domain of
the cook. She proudly received the company, standing ladle in hand, by
an enormous earthen vessel containing a tempting mixture, in which
candied fruits, currants, and spices seemed to predominate. We were
expected, every one, to bring this medley to greater perfection by
turning over a portion of it with the ladle. It was duly offered first
to the little stranger, whose grandsire seized and plunged it into the
savory depths, whilst the tiny baby hand was tenderly laid upon his own.

The second part of the ceremony--tasting--had likewise to be performed
by proxy, for the young scion of the house peremptorily refused to
trifle with any temptation in the form of mincemeat. We all in
succession performed the ancient rite, and my husband said to me
afterwards what a capital subject for a picture of family portraits the
scene would afford. The contrast in the attire of the cook and her maids
with the toilettes of the ladies, together with the picturesque
background of the bright kitchen utensils, made a subject in the style
of an old Dutch master, with a touch of modern sentiment.

After seeing different places on the banks of the Thames we decided
again for Kew, but this time we required larger lodgings--not only on
account of Mary, but also for Miss Susan Hamerton and our cousins, Ben
and Annie Hinde, whom we had invited to join us there. They had gladly
accepted the invitation, and our meeting was happy and cheerful. We had
been very fortunate in our lodgings, which were spacious, clean, and
with a good view of the Green. Our landlady was a very respectable and
obliging person, and she let us have, when we wished, the use of a
chaise and a fast-trotting little pony, which greatly added to Aunt
Susan's enjoyment of the country, for her nephew drove her to the
prettiest places in the neighborhood, and through Richmond Park whenever
the weather allowed it. The beautiful gardens received almost a daily
visit from us, and were a most agreeable as well as a convenient resort
for our aged aunt, as she could either walk in the open grounds when it
was mild enough, or else visit the numerous hot-houses if she found the
outside air too keen for her.

We had been fortunate in this choice of Kew for our temporary residence;
not only did we like the place in itself, but we met with so hospitable
and flattering a reception from several resident families, that they
contrived to make us feel unlike strangers among them, and ever after,
our thoughts turned back to that time with mingled feelings of regret,
pleasure, and gratitude; and whenever we came to contemplate the
possibility of moving to England, Kew was always the place named as
being preferred by both of us.

Here we again met Professor Oliver, whom my husband had known since he
came to Kew alone for the first time. Being greatly interested in
painting, and possessing a collection of fine water-colors by Mr. Alfred
Hunt, he took pleasure in showing them to Mr. Hamerton, as well as the
Herbarium, of which he was Director.

Professor Church and his wife showed themselves most friendly and
untiringly hospitable. Very interesting and distinguished people were to
be met at their house, where the master was ever willing to display
before his guests some of his valuable collections of jewels, rare
tissues, old laces, and Japanese bronzes. We often had the pleasure of
meeting at this friendly house Mr. Thiselton Dyer, now Director
of Kew Gardens, and his wife, the daughter of Sir John Hooker--a most
charming person, who reminded both of us of the lovely women
immortalized by Reynolds.


The third edition of "Etching and Etchers," now on sale, had fulfilled
all expectations, and was universally admired and praised. It was a
great satisfaction to the author, who had never before enjoyed such a
complete recognition. His reputation and popularity increased rapidly,
and if he had liked he would have been a good deal lionized; but
although far from insensible to this success, he remained true to his
studious habits--going with Mr. Seeley to the National Gallery, British
or Kensington Museums, to choose illustrations for the "Graphic Arts,"
or quietly writing at his lodgings, and only accepting invitations from
his friends and publishers.

In December Mr. Macmillan gave a dinner at the Garrick Club in honor of
the author of "Etching and Etchers," who was warmly congratulated by the
other guests invited to meet him.

I have still in my possession the menu belonging to Mr. Alma Tadenia who
said to my husband: "I dare say Mrs. Hamerton would like to have a
_souvenir_ of this evening--present her with this in my name," and he
handed his menu, on the back of which he had quickly and cleverly drawn
a little likeness of himself in caricature, and the guests had signed
their names on it. A facsimile is given on the opposite page.

As he had given us an invitation to visit his curious house we did not
fail to go, and Mary was especially attracted by the famous grand piano,
inscribed inside with the signatures of the renowned musicians who had
performed upon it. Knowing that our daughter was seriously studying
music, Mrs. Alma Tadema generously expressed the hope of seeing sometime
the signature of Miss Hamerton by the side of the other names.

My husband also took Mary to Mrs. Woolner's, and she enjoyed greatly the
society of the children, who spoke French very creditably, and who were
interested in the details she could give them about French life and
ways. They took her to their father's studios, and showed her his works.
When dinner-time came, however, she was unprepared for being waited upon
by her new friends, and in consequence felt somewhat ill at ease. It was
a fancy of Mr. Woolner's to make his children wait upon his guests. They
offered bread and wine, and directed the maids, their duty consisting
chiefly in seeing that every guest received perfect attendance. It
reminded one of the pages' service in mediaeval times, and was accepted
by people of mature age as a gracious courtesy of their host, though it
proved rather embarrassing to a girl of fifteen. I don't know how long
the custom prevailed, but I did not notice it in succeeding years.

Our cousin, Ben Hinde, had joined us only for a few days, his duties as
a clergyman not allowing of a long absence, but our meeting had been
very pleasant and cordial. He had left with us his sister Annie, to whom
my husband endeavored to show what was most worthy of attention in the
metropolis. And just as we were thus enjoying our fragrant "cup of
coffee," the "pinch of salt" was thrown into it with a heavy hand--for
we heard from Richard that he was lying so dangerously ill that he could
not move in bed. He had only written a few words in pencil to let us
know that the doctor thought our presence unnecessary, because the
danger would be past, or the illness prove fatal, before we could

Of course my first impulse was to rush to my poor boy's bedside; but
what was to become of Mary--a girl of fifteen--unused to English ways,
and speaking English still imperfectly? Perhaps our aunt, who was to
leave us in a few days, would stay a little longer, though the approach
of Christmas made it imperative for her companion to get back to the
vicarage as soon as possible. But my husband?... Could I think of
leaving him a prey to this terrible anxiety, and to all the dangers of a
return of the old nervous attacks? I saw how he dreaded the mere
possibility, though he never said a word to influence my decision, but
the threatening insomnia and restlessness had already made their
appearance, and warned me that I ought to stay near him.

I wrote to my best friend in Paris, begging her to send her own doctor
to our poor boy, and to let me know the whole truth immediately. The
answer was reassuring--the crisis was past; there was nothing to fear
now, only the patient would remain weak for some time, and would require
great care. His friends--particularly one of them, a student of
medicine--had nursed him intelligently and devotedly. As soon as he
could take a little food my friend sent him delicacies and old wines,
and when he could bear the railway he went to his grandmother's to await
our return home.

We breathed again, and Aunt Susan and Annie left us comparatively quiet
in mind.

My husband now went on with his work as fast as possible, for he longed
to see his younger son again. When his notes for the "Graphic Arts" were
completed, we made a round of visits to take leave of our friends, and
after another short stay at Knapdale, where we had the pleasure of
meeting Mr. Lockyer, and another very pleasant pilgrimage to Mr. and
Mrs. Palmer's hermitage, we set off for Paris.

Mr. Seeley wrote shortly after our arrival in the French capital about
several matters connected with the "Portfolio," and added: "How will you
be able to settle down again in that little Autun? You will feel (as
Robert Montgomery said of himself in Glasgow) like an oak in a

No, the oak liked to feel the pure air of the Morvan hills blowing about
its head, and to spread its branches in unconfined space. It was in
great crowded cities that it felt the pressure of the flower-pot.

On arriving at home we found Richard well again, and gifted with an
extraordinary appetite--which was the restorative he most needed, having
grown very thin and weak through his illness.

My husband had been very desirous to present me with a _souvenir_ of the
success of "Etching and Etchers," and pressed me to choose a trinket,
either a bracelet or a brooch; but I thought what I possessed already
quite sufficient, and though very sensible of his kind thoughtfulness, I
said that if he liked to make me a present, I would choose something
useful,--a silk dress, for instance. "But that would not be a present,"
he said; "when you want a dress you buy it. I should like to offer you
some pretty object which would last."

I knew that he liked to see me--and ladies in general--wearing jewels;
not in great quantity, but simply as a touch of finish to the toilette.
When I was young, he would have liked me (had it been possible) to dress
always in white, and the fashions not being then so elaborate as they
have become, it was easy enough in summer-time and in the country to
indulge his taste. So in warm days I often wore a white muslin dress,
quite plain, relieved only by a colored sash. If the sash happened to be
green, he liked it to be matched by a set of crystal beads of the same
color, which he had brought me from Switzerland when he had gone there
with his aunt and uncle. When the ribbon was red, I was to wear corals,
and with a blue one lapis-lazuli.

At last he remembered that I had admired some plain dead-gold bracelets
of English make that we had been looking at together, not far from the
National Gallery, and said he would be glad if I would choose one of
them. I had, however, taken the same resolution about jewels as his own
about pictures, and that was, to admire what was beautiful, but never to
buy, because it was beyond our means. The resolution, once taken, left
no way open to temptation. Still, I did not mean to deny myself the
pleasure of accepting his proffered present, only I did not want it to
be expensive, and since I had a sufficiency of jewels, "would he give me
a pretty casket to put them in?" "Yes," he readily assented. And when I
opened the casket of fair olive-wood, with the delicately wrought nickel
clasps and lock, I found a folded paper laid on the dark-blue velvet
tray, and having opened it read what follows--I need not say with what

  "Here in this empty casket, instead of a diamond or pearl,
  Instead of a gem I leave but a little rhyme.
  She remembers the brooch and the bracelet I gave her when she was a
  Deep blue from beyond the sea, not paler from lapse of time.
  She will put them here in the casket, the ultramarine and the gold;
  And if such a thing might be, I would give them to her twice over;
  Once in my youthful hope, and now again when I'm old,
  But alike in youth or in age with the heart and the soul of a lover."

This note is entered in the diary:--

"January 1, 1881. Faceva i miei doni alla sposa, alla figlia, al mio
figlio Stefano. La sposa era felicissima di ricevere la sua cassetta."

Roberts Brothers had heard that a new book was in preparation, and they
wrote in January, 1881:--

"Your third edition of 'Etching and Etchers' is really a magnificent
specimen of book-making, and we understand two hundred copies have been
sold in America. At all events, whatever the number sold, it is not to
be had. We should like to have the American edition of the 'Graphic
Arts,' and should be glad to receive the novel when it is ready."

But the novel had been put aside, the author being doubtful if it
equalled "Marmorne" in quality. The whole of his time for writing was
devoted to the "Graphic Arts," and the remainder to painting from
nature, often with Mr. Pickering, and to the consideration of the
necessary alterations to the boat in view of a summer cruise on the
Saône. The reading of Italian was resumed pretty regularly, whilst the
diary was kept in that language.

Early in the spring Mr. Seeley wrote:--

"I am afraid it is indispensable that we should meet in Paris, as the
selection of engravings for reproduction is very important, though, like
you, I grudge the loss of time. But the book is an important one, and we
must do our very best to make it a success."

It was then decided that my husband should go to Paris with Richard, and
they started on May 4, stopped a day at Sens to see the cathedral again,
and to call upon Madame Challard (who had become a widow), and arrived
in Paris at night.

The entries in the note-book (kept in Italian) record his visits to the
Salon, to the Louvre, and to various public buildings. Also to the
Bibliothèque, to study the works of the École de Fontainebleau, and to
an exhibition of paintings in imitation of tapestry, which much
interested him.

He also went with Richard to see Munkacsy's picture of "Christ before
Pilate," and notes Richard's astonishment at it. He considered it
himself as one of the finest of existing pictures. He also expresses the
great pleasure he derived from Jacquemart's water-colors, their
brilliancy and sureness of execution.

The four following days having been very busy, received only this short
note, "In Parigi con Seeley;" then the fifth has, "Seeley e partito sta

The succeeding entries record further visits to the Salon, the Louvre,
and Bibliothèque; but on the return journey, at Chagny on the 19th, he
notes that he has received sad news of the death of M. de Saint Victor,
in a duel with M. Asselin. It was only too true, and had happened on a
day which was to have been a _fête_, for Madame de Saint Victor, whose
daughter went to the same school as ours, had invited both myself and
Mary, with a few others school-fellows and their mothers, to lunch at
the Château de Monjeu, of which her husband was Régisseur. The
unfortunate lady did not know what had passed between her husband and a
gentleman of the locality who was trespassing on the grounds of the
château. M. de Saint Victor considered himself insulted, and challenged
M. Asselin; he, moreover, insisted upon choosing the sword as a
weapon--the most dangerous of all in a serious duel--and on the morning
which should have been festive and mirthful, he fell dead in the wood
near his home, killed by a sword-thrust from his skilful adversary.

As soon as he was back home, Mr. Hamerton set to work regularly at the
"Graphic Arts." In the diary this phrase is repeated like a litany:
"Worked with great pleasure at my book, the 'Graphic Arts.'" But at
the same time there is a complaint that it prevents the mind from being
happily disposed for artistic work. I have already said how difficult it
was for him to turn from one kind of occupation to another. Here is a
confirmation of this fact:--

"I lost the whole of the day in attempting to make a drawing for an
etching. Was not in the mood. It is necessary to have a certain warmth
and interest in a subject--which I have lost, but hope to recover. For a
long time past all my thoughts have turned upon my literary work."

It is easy for readers of the "Graphic Arts" to realize what an amount
of knowledge and preparation such a book required; and to present so
much information in a palatable form was no less than a feat. Still, the
author took great delight in his work. As in the case of "Etching and
Etchers," he was encouraged by the publisher, who wrote on June, "I mean
to take a pride in the book." It was exactly the sort of work which
suited him--sufficiently important to allow the subjects to be treated
at length when necessary, and worthy of the infinite care and thought he
liked to bestow upon his studies. In this case, wonderful as it seems,
he had himself practised all the arts of which he speaks, with the
exception of fresco. As to the other branches of art, namely,
pen-and-ink, silver-point, lead-pencil, sanguine, chalk, charcoal, water
monochrome, oil monochrome, pastel, painting in oil, painting in
water-colors, wood-engraving, etching and dry-point, aquatint and
mezzotint, lithography, he had--more or less--tried every one of them.
And though he did not give sufficient practice to the burin to acquire
real skill, still he did not remain satisfied till he could use it.

The same feeling of conscientiousness led him to become acquainted with
all the different processes of reproduction so much in vogue, and he was
ever anxious to learn all their technical details.

It was hoped that the "Graphic Arts" might be published at the end of
the year, and in order to be ready, the author put aside all other work,
excepting that of the "Portfolio;" but he longed for a short holiday,
and meant to take it on the Saône. He went to Chalon to a boat-builder,
and explained the changes to be made in the "Morvandelle," set the men
to work, and returned to his book.

He had begun to suffer from insomnia, and Mr. Seeley wrote:--

"Probably you are right in saying that yachting is a necessity for you;
but for the enjoyment of it you are badly placed at Autun. You must look
after that cottage at Cowes, which I suggested some time ago; and we
must set up a yacht between us; only, unluckily, I am always seasick in
a breeze."

Certainly the situation of Autun was not favorable to yachting, the
streams about it being only fit for canoeing; but the broad Saône was
not far off, and as Chalon was my husband's headquarters when cruising,
he was not disinclined to the short journey which afforded an
opportunity for visiting my mother and my brother, who lived there.

My husband had thought that a river voyage would be charming with R. L.
Stevenson as a companion, and that they might, perhaps, produce a work
in collaboration, so he had made the proposal, and here is part of the


"MY DEAR MR. HAMMERTON,--(There goes the second M: it is a certainty.)
Thank you for your prompt and kind answer, little as I deserved it,
though I hope to show you I was less undeserving than I seemed. But just
might I delete two words in your testimonial? The two words 'and legal'
were unfortunately winged by chance against my weakest spot, and would
go far to damn me.

"It was not my bliss that I was interested in when I was married; it was
a sort of marriage _in extremis_; and if I am where I am, it is thanks
to the care of that lady who married me when I was a mere complication
of cough and bones, much fitter for an emblem of mortality than a

"I had a fair experience of that kind of illness when all the women (God
bless them I) turn round upon the streets and look after you with a look
that is only too kind not to be cruel. I have had nearly two years of
more or less prostration. I have done no work whatever since the
February before last, until quite of late. To be precise, until the
beginning of the last month, exactly two essays. All last winter I was
at Davos; and indeed I am home here just now against the doctor's
orders, and must soon be back again to that unkindly haunt 'upon the
mountains visitant--there goes no angel there, but the angel of death.'
The deaths of last winter are still sore spots to me.... So you see I am
not very likely to go on a 'wild expedition,' cis-Stygian at least. The
truth is, I am scarce justified in standing for the chair, though I hope
you will not mention this; and yet my health is one of my reasons, for
the class is in summer.

"I hope this statement of my case will make my long neglect appear less
unkind. It was certainly not because I ever forgot you or your unwonted
kindness; and it was not because I was in any sense rioting in

"I am glad to hear the catamaran is on her legs again; you have my
warmest wishes for a good cruise down the Saône: and yet there comes
some envy to that wish; for when shall I go cruising? Here a sheer hulk,
alas! lies R. L. S. But I will continue to hope for a better time,
canoes that will sail better to the wind, and a river grander than the

"I heard, by the way, in a letter of counsel from a well-wisher, one
reason of my town's absurdity about the chair of Art: I fear it is
characteristic of her manners. It was because you did not call upon the

"Will you remember me to Mrs. Hamerton and your son? and believe me,"
etc., etc.

In September we had the pleasure of a visit from Miss Betham-Edwards,
and the acquaintance ripened into friendship.

Having brought the "Graphic Arts" satisfactorily forward, my husband
thought that he might indulge in the longed-for holiday on the Saône. He
expected to find everything ready at Chalon, and to have only to
superintend the putting together of the sections of the boat. He was,
however, sorely disappointed on finding that nothing had been done, and
that he must spend several days in pushing the workmen on, instead of
sailing pleasantly on the river. After a week of worry and irritation
the boat was launched, and the two boys having joined their father on
board, they went together as far as Tournus, after spending the first
night at Port d'Ouroux, where they had found a nice little inn, with
simple but good accommodation. In the afternoon Stephen went back to
Autun to fetch his things, for he was obliged to be at his post on the
first of October. Richard proceeded with his father down the Saône to
Mâcon. The diary says:--

"Sept. 30. A beautiful voyage it was. The loveliest weather, favorable
wind, strong, delightful play of light and color on water. I had not
enjoyed such boating since I left Loch Awe."

There are these notes in the diary:--

"Nov. 26. Corrected the last proof of the 'Graphic Arts,' and sent it
off with a new finish, as the other seemed too abrupt. Spent a good deal
of time over the finish, writing it twice."

"Nov. 27. Worked all day as hard as possible at index to 'Graphic Arts,'
and got it finished at midnight."

He was in time, but Mr. Seeley wrote:--

"Now Goupil's delay [about the illustrations] threatens to become most
serious. We have now orders for 1050 copies, large and small, so we have
already surpassed the sale of 'Etching and Etchers,' third edition."

Alas! there was a very distressing item of news in the letter dated
December 1:--

"The enclosed letter from Goupil is a complete upset. It seems that the
printing of the Louvre drawings [Footnote: Two drawings by Zucchero and
Watteau. The latter was in black, red, and white chalk. The reproduction
was printed from one plate, the different colored inks being rubbed in
by the printer. Only about ten prints could be taken in a day.] will
take five or six months.

"We must decide at once what to do. This is one plan. If we can get all
the other illustrations ready, then to publish as soon as we can,
putting these three plates in the large paper copies only, and in the
others a slip of paper explaining how tedious the printing is, and
promising that these illustrations shall be delivered in the spring to
any purchaser who produces the slip.

"This is one plan. If you prefer it, please telegraph _Yes_.

"The other plan is to postpone the publication, and bring out the
complete book in the spring. If you prefer this, please telegraph _No_.

"I leave the matter entirely in your hands. Pray decide as you judge

This delay was most provoking after the hard work the author had given
to the book to have it out in good time, and also because the orders
were increasing; they had now reached 315 copies for the large edition,
and 868 of the small one. Still, there was no help for it, and the
publication must be postponed rather than give an imperfect book to the
public. Both author and publisher agreed in that decision.

On December 17, 1881, Mr. Hamerton received the following letter:--


"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--You will do me an honor indeed by the dedication
you propose, and my own little worthiness to receive it becomes of
secondary importance when taken with the exceeding importance of the
truth you insist upon in connection with it--a truth always plain to me,
however moderately I may have been able to illustrate its value.

"Thank you very much: you will add to my obligation by the visit you so
kindly promise.

"I return you the best of Christmas wishes, and am ever, dear Mr.

"Yours most truly,


I transcribe the dedication to explain Mr. Browning's letter.


"I wish to dedicate this book to you as the representative of a class
which ought to be more numerous,--the class of large-minded persons who
take a lively interest in arts which are not specially their own. No one
who had not carefully observed the narrowing of men's minds by
specialities could believe to what a degree it goes. Instead of being
open, as yours has always been, to the influences of literature, in the
largest sense, as well as to the influences of the graphic arts and
music, the specialized mind shuts itself up in its own pursuit so
exclusively that it does not even know what is nearest to its own closed
doors. We meet with scholars who take no more account of the graphic
arts than if they did not exist, and with painters who never read; but
what is still more surprising, is the complete indifference with which
an art can be regarded by men who know and practise another not widely
removed from it. One may be a painter and yet know nothing whatever
about any kind of engraving; one may be a skilled engraver, and yet work
in lifelong misunderstanding of the rapid arts. If the specialists who
devote themselves to a single study had more of your interest in the
work of others, they might find, as you have done, that the quality
which may be called open-mindedness is far from being an impediment to
success, even in the highest and most arduous of artistic and
intellectual pursuits."

Mr. Hamerton was so adverse to puffing of any kind and to noise being
made about his name, that he neglected the most honest means of having
it brought forward to public notice; for instance, he had been asked in
November, 1881, for notes on his life for a book to be entitled "The
Victorian Era of English Literature," and had forgotten all about it. He
had to be reminded in 1882 that he had promised to send the notes.

I suppose that the following letter from R. L. Stevenson must have been
received about this time. It is almost impossible to ascertain, as--like
the others--it bears no date.


"MY DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--My conscience has long been smiting me, till it
became nearly chronic. My excuses, however, are many and not pleasant.
Almost immediately after I last wrote to you, I had a hemorreage (I
can't spell it), was badly treated by a doctor in the country, and have
been a long while picking up--still, in fact, have much to desire on
that side. Next, as soon as I got here, my wife took ill; she is, I
fear, seriously so; and this combination of two invalids very much
depresses both.

"I have a volume of republished essays coming out with Chatto and
Windus; I wish they would come, that my wife might have the reviews to
divert her. Otherwise my news is nil. I am up here in a little chalet,
on the borders of a pine-wood, overlooking a great part of the Davos
Thai: a beautiful scene at night, with the moon upon the snowy mountains
and the lights warmly shining in the village. J. A. Symonds is next door
to me, just at the foot of my Hill Difficulty (this you will please
regard as the House Beautiful), and his society is my great stand-by.

"Did you see I had joined the band of the rejected? 'Hardly one of us,'
said my _confrères_ at the bar.

"I was blamed by a common friend for asking you to give me a
testimonial: in the circumstances he thought it was indelicate. Lest, by
some calamity, you should ever have felt the same way, I must say in two
words how the matter appeared to me. That silly story of the election
altered in no tittle the value of your testimony: so much for that. On
the other hand, it led me to take a quite particular pleasure in asking
you to give it; and so much for the other. I trust even if you cannot
share it, you will understand my view.

"I am in treaty with Bentley for a life of Hazlitt; I hope it will not
fall through, as I love the subject, and appear to have found a
publisher who loves it also. That, I think, makes things more pleasant.
You know I am a fervent Hazlittite; I mean, regarding him as _the_
English writer who has had the scantiest justice. Besides which, I am
anxious to write biography; really, if I understand myself in quest of
profit, I think it must be good to live with another man from birth to
death. You have tried it and know.

"How has the cruising gone? Pray remember me to Mrs. Hamerton and your
son, and believe me,

"Yours very sincerely,


Throughout this year the diary was kept in Italian, and the reading of
Italian books was pretty regularly kept up; among them were Olanda,
Petrarch, and Ariosto. He soon abandoned Petrarch, whom he did not value
much; here is the reason: "I prefer the clear movement of Ariosto to all
the conceits of the sonnet-maker."

"Human Intercourse" was begun, and to save time, two copies were written
simultaneously--one for England and the other for America--by inserting
a sheet of black copying paper between two sheets of thin "Field and
Tuer" paper, and writing with a hard lead pencil and sufficient pressure
to obtain a duplicate on the page placed underneath. Roberts Brothers
were very desirous of seeing this new work, and had written: "We should
like to make 'Human Intercourse' a companion volume to the 'Intellectual
Life,' and the title is so suggestive of something good that we hope you
will hasten the good time of its appearance."

The publication of the "Graphic Arts" had been fixed for March 1, but a
copy having been got ready at the end of January, it was sent as a
compliment to Mr. Sagar of the Burnley Mechanics' Institution, and Mr.
Seeley said: "The Burnley people are delighted at having had the first
sight of the 'Graphic Arts.' Mr. Sagar writes that from what he saw of
it, he has no hesitation in saying that it is the best book you have
written, and does great credit to everybody concerned in its

The book was highly appreciated by those competent to judge and
understand the subjects. Mr. Haden wrote about it a letter of fourteen
pages. Though he calls it himself "an unconscionably long letter," it is
most interesting throughout, but I only quote a few passages from it.

"I have been reading the 'Graphic Arts' with great interest. It is, or
rather must have been, a formidable undertaking. I like your chapter on
'Useful and Aesthetic Drawing.' Your insistence on keeping the two
things separate, and claiming for each its value, is a great
lesson--read, too, just at the right time.

"And in your 'Drawing for Artistic Pleasure,' the great lesson there is,
that true artistic pleasure can only be excited in others by the artist
that _knows_ what he is about, though he does not express it. Did you
ever see a drawing or an etching by Victor Hugo? Hugo is a poet, and
affects to be an artist. But his knowledge of what is or should be
_organic_, in every picture, is so lamentably absent, that his poetry
(sought to be imparted in that shape) goes for nothing.

"In 'Right and Wrong in Drawing,' which is excellently written, the
concluding paragraph is admirable. The chapter on 'Etching and
Dry-Point' is charmingly written, easy and refined in diction, and set
down _con amore_."

Then came this letter from Mr. Browning:--

"19 WARWICK CRESCENT, W. _March_ 6, 1882.

"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--I thought your dedication a great honor to me, and
should have counted it such had it simply prefaced a pamphlet. To
connect it with this magnificent book is indeed engraving my name on a
jewel, instead of stone or even marble.

"Your sumptuous present reached me two days ago--and will be consigned
to 'my library,' when the best jewel I boast of is disposed of on my
dressing-table among articles proper to the place: no, indeed--it shall
be encased as a jewel should, on a desk for all to see how the author
has chosen to illustrate the [painting- and] drawing-room of the
author's admirer and (dares he add?) friend,


Mr. Alfred Hunt also wrote: "I can see that the plan of the book is
admirable. I often want to know something about art processes which I
don't practise myself, and which I might be stimulated into trying if I
was only younger."

The sale of the book was rapid, and before six weeks had elapsed so few
copies remained that the prices were raised to fifteen guineas for the
large edition, and to seven and a half guineas for the small one. But
the author had overworked himself, and hurry had brought back the old
enemy--insomnia. Mr. Seeley, who had lately suffered from lumbago,

"Sleeplessness is a far worse thing than lumbago. You are right in
taking it seriously. I have little doubt, however, that by avoiding
overwork--and especially hurried work--and getting plenty of exercise,
you will overcome the tendency. If you ever do another big book, we must
take two or three years for it, and have no sort of hurry. I once
thought of the 'Landscape Painters' as a good subject for a big book."

In a subsequent letter Mr. Seeley gives a great deal of thoughtful
consideration to what might suit his friend's requirements:--

"If 'Landscape Painting' is a subject that you would thoroughly like to
take up, please tell me what travelling you would consider needful, and
as far as expense goes I will try to meet you. Perhaps for one thing we
might go to Italy together, if you are not afraid of being dragged about
in a chain.

"I thought of the Rhône book again, as likely to suit your present state
of health."

In the current year, however, it was impossible to undertake the voyage,
because "Human Intercourse" was to be the important work. As usual with
a new book, the author had had a struggle at the beginning. He
attributed the difficulty to the want of subdivisions in the chapters,
and when he had adopted a more elastic system than is usual in a
treatise, the obstacle disappeared. He has himself explained this, more
in detail, to his readers, in the preface of the book.

There is no doubt that this long struggle had increased the tendency to
sleeplessness, and a little cruise on the Saône was thought to be the
best remedy. So he left for Mâcon at the beginning of April, and after
putting the several parts of the boat together, and getting provisions
on board, he started with Stephen on a voyage down the Saône. On their
way they could see with a telescope all the details of Mont Blanc. At
Port d'Arciat they picked up a friend, and after a "good little repast
with a Good Friday _matelote_," a few sketches were made at Thoissey and

The change and exercise in the open air did my husband a great deal of
good, and he had regained sleep when he returned home.

There being still a good deal of leakage in the "Morvandelle," though a
thick kind of flannel had been pressed into the interstices, it was
decided to use the wooden parts to make two small boats for the pond,
one for Stephen and the other for Richard, the old ones being rotten.
There was much pleasurable planning for my husband in the scheme, and
also some manual work for rainy weather. He was exceedingly careful and
handy in doing joiner's work, and every one in the house applied to him
for delicate repairs, and--when he had time--they were done to
perfection; only, he seldom had time, and it was a standing joke that he
must have a private museum somewhere to which the objects confided to
him found their way. In reality, he had to do a good deal of manual
labor of different kinds, on account of our country life, which placed
us at an inconvenient distance from workmen. For instance, he always
framed his etchings and engravings himself; at one time he even
undertook to re-gild all the frames which the flies so rapidly spoilt in
the country. He had also to make numerous packing-cases and boxes for
the sending of plates, pictures, and books; he invented lots of
contrivances for the arrangement of his colors, brushes, portfolios,
etc. He made different portable easels with folding stools corresponding
to their size, for working from nature, desks for large books, such as
dictionaries, to be placed by the side of his arm-chair when he was
reading; others for etchings and engravings, so that they might be
examined without fear of any object coming in contact with them. So
sensitive was he to the way in which works of art were handled, that he
allowed no one to touch his prints or illustrated books; he was always
in dread about their margins being creased or crumpled, and to avoid
this possibility he used to show them himself. A well-known aqua-fortist
told me that my husband had said to him once, "I would not trust you to
handle one of your own etchings."

Mr. Seeley had suggested that some illustrated articles about Autun
might interest the readers of the "Portfolio" on account of the Roman
and mediaeval remains, the remarkable cathedral, and the picturesque
character of the surrounding country. He thought that, as a title, "An
Old Burgundian City" would do. In a former letter he had expressed a
wish that his editor should come to England--if possible--every year in
the spring, instead of the autumn, when it was too late to discuss
arrangements for the "Portfolio" for the ensuing year. Mr. Hamerton
admitted that it would be desirable, no doubt, but he could not afford
it; the expenses of our last stay had been a warning, though we had
lived as simply as possible. To these considerations Mr. Seeley had
answered: "I am sorry you do not feel more happy about your future work.
What seems to be wanting is some public post in which you would be paid
for studying." But he had had more than enough of such schemes after his
attempt at Edinburgh, and it was the only one he was ever induced to
make. He began at once the pen-drawings which were to illustrate the
articles on Autun, and he liked his work exceedingly.



"Paris."--Miss Susan Hamerton's Death.--Burnley revisited.--Hellifield
Peel.--"Landscape" planned.--Voyage to Marseilles.

In May, Richard went away to Paris to study from the antique in the
Louvre, and Mary read English to her father for an hour every afternoon.

In the summer Mr. Hamerton received the decoration and title of Officier
d'Académie, but so little did he care for public marks of distinction
that the fact is barely mentioned in the diary.

In August he received the following interesting letter from Mr.


"_August_ 17, 1882.

"DEAR MR. HAMERTON,--When I got, a month ago, your very pleasant letter,
I felt that, full as it was of influences from Autun, the Saône between
Chalon and Lyons, speeded by '330 square feet of canvas,' my little word
of thanks in reply would never get well under weigh from the banks of
our sluggish canal; so reserved launching it till I should reach this
point of vantage: and now, forth with it, that, wherever it may find
you, I may assure your kindness that it would indeed have gratified me
to see you, had circumstances enabled you to come my way; and that the
amends you promise for failing to do so will be duly counted upon; tho'
whether that will happen at Warwick Crescent is unlikely rather than
merely uncertain--since the Bill which is to abolish my house, among
many more notable erections, has 'passed the Lords'' a fortnight ago,
and I must look about for another lodging--much against my will. I
dropped into it with all the indifference possible, some twenty-one
years ago--meaning to slip out again soon as this happened, and that
happened--and they all did happen, and yet found me with a sufficient
reason for staying longer, till, only last year while abroad, the
extraordinary thought occurred--'what need of removing at all?'--to
which was no answer: so I took certain steps toward permanent comfort,
which never before seemed worth taking--and, on my return, was saluted
by a notice to the effect that a Railway Company wanted my 'House,
forecourt, and garden,' and wished to know if I objected--I who, a month
or two before, had painted the house and improved the garden. Go I
must--but I shall endeavor to go somewhere near, and your visit, if you
pay me one, will begin the good associations with the place. And _this_
place; you may be acquainted with it, not unlikely. It is a hamlet on a
hilltop, surrounded by mountains covered with fir--being the ancient
Cartusia whence our neighbors the monks took their name; the Great
Chartreuse lies close by, an hour's walk perhaps: this hamlet is in
their district, 'the Desert,' as they call it; their walks are confined
to it, and you meet on a certain day a procession of white-clothed
shavelings, absolved from their vow of silence, and chattering like
magpies, while vigorously engaged in butterfly-hunting. We have not a
single shop in the whole handful of houses--excepting the 'tabac et
timbres' establishment--where jalap and lollipops are sold likewise--and
one hovel, the owner of which calls himself, on its outside,
'Cordonnier': yet there is this 'Hôtel' and an auberge or two--serving
to house travellers who are dismissed from the Convent at times
inconvenient for reaching Grenoble; or so I suppose.

"The beauty and quiet of the scenery, the purity of the air, the variety
of the wild-flowers--these are incomparable in our eyes (those of my
sister and myself), and make all roughnesses smooth: we spent five weeks
here last season; will do the like now, and then are bound for Ischia,
where a friend entertains us for a month in a seaside villa he inhabits:
afterwards to London, with what appetite we may, though London has its
abundant worth too. Utterly peaceful as this country appears--and you
may walk in its main roads for hours without meeting any one but a
herdsman or wood-cutter--I shall tell you a little experience I have had
of its possibilities. On the last day of our sojourn last year, we took
a final look at and leave of a valley, a few miles off; and as I stood
thinking of the utter _innocency_ of the little spot and its
surroundings, the odd fancy entered my head, 'Suppose you discovered a
corpse in this solitude, would you think it your duty to go and apprise
the authorities, incurring all the risks and certain hindrance to to-
morrow's departure which such an act entails in France--or would you
simply hold your tongue?' And I concluded, 'I ought to run those risks.'
Well, that night a man was found murdered, just there where I had been
looking down, and the owner of the field was at once arrested and shut
up in the _Mairie_ of the village of St. Pierre d'Entremont, close by.
The victim was an Italian mason, had received seven mortal wounds, and
lay in a potato-patch with a sack containing potatoes: 'he had probably
been caught stealing these by the owner, who had killed him,'--so, the
owner was taken into custody. We heard this--and were inconvenienced
enough by it next day, for our journey was delayed by the Judge
(d'Instruction) from Grenoble possessing himself of the mule which was
to carry our luggage, in order to report on the spot; but we got away at
last. On returning, last week, I inquired about the result. 'The accused
man, who was plainly innocent, being altogether _boulversé_ by the
charge coming upon him just in his distress at losing a daughter a
fortnight before, had taken advantage of the negligence of the gendarmes
to throw himself from the window. He survived three hours, protesting
his innocence to the last, which was confirmed by good evidence: the
likelihood being that the murder had been committed by the Italian's
companions at a little distance, and the body carried thro' the woods
and laid there to divert suspicions.' Well might my genius warn me of
the danger of being a victim's neighbor. But how I have victimized
_you_, if you have borne with me! Forgive, and believe me ever,

"Yours truly,


Mr. Seeley had thought that a series of articles on Paris might be
suitable for the "Portfolio," if they were written by the editor, who
knew the beautiful city so well, and accordingly my husband had decided
to go there for a month, in order to take notes and to choose subjects
for the illustrations. He never could have been reconciled to the idea
of remaining a month in Paris alone, and I bethought myself of a plan,
which seemed both economical and pleasant, and which he readily adopted.
It was to take Mary with us, and to rent a small apartment in our quiet
Hôtel de la Muette; having our meals prepared in our private kitchen
(for each apartment was complete), and the cleaning done with the help
of a _femme de ménage_. It would be a sort of life-at-home on a very
small scale.

The apartments were like English lodgings without attendance. Moreover,
no one belonging to the hotel, not even a servant, had a right to enter
the apartments: they were entirely private. One might order the most
costly repasts from the luxurious restaurants close at hand, or keep a
_cordon bleu_, or live on bread-and-water like an anchorite, just as one
pleased, without anybody noticing it. This liberty was exactly what my
husband liked.

We left home on October 9 with Richard, who was to continue his artistic
studies in England now, and Mary, whom her father wanted to become
acquainted with the different museums, beautiful buildings, and
treasures of art, under his direction, for which there could have been
no better opportunity.

We all looked forward to this change as to a _partie de plaisir_, the
young people especially, and on our arrival in Paris, M. Mas and his
wife received us with great cordiality. They had nothing in common with
the ordinary type of hotel-keepers, and welcomed their _habitués_ with a
simple, hearty friendliness--such as servants, who had been all their
lives in a family, might show to their masters--which pleased my husband
much. They showed us, with visible satisfaction, our little apartment,
saying that it had been reserved for us on account of "Mademoiselle,"
because her room would be just close to her mamma's, and the door
leading from one to the other might be left open at night. We were told
that the kitchen was particularly nice, because Monsieur Paul Baudry,
"un artiste aussi," had fitted it up "à neuf" for the three months he
had been spending in our present apartment. Early in the morning I went
out to order provisions--groceries, fuel, wine, etc., for the month we
were to remain at the hotel. We had afterwards an excellent and cheerful
_déjeuner_ prepared in our own kitchen. My husband was amused by the
contrivances of what he called "the doll's house," and said he did not
mind spending a month in that way. In the afternoon we went with the
children to see the Hôtel de Ville, Notre Dame, and La Cour de
Cassation: in each of these buildings my husband gave us a short
explanatory lesson in architecture.

The second day he had already made rules for the division of his time,
according to which the mornings would be reserved for writing and
correspondence; déjeuner was to be ready at eleven, so as to leave the
afternoon free for the work in Paris.

As on the previous day, we were breakfasting together, talking of
Richard's prospects in London, when there came a telegram, saying that
our dear Aunt Susan thought herself to be sinking, and desired to see
us. It was a sudden and a painful blow; my husband had not a moment of
hesitation about what he would do. He told us to pack up immediately,
whilst he went to look at the railway-guide, and find the first slow
night-train for England: Richard and Mary were to go with us--it would
be a last satisfaction for their aunt if we arrived in time.

I was full of apprehension for my husband, but, of course, refrained
from mentioning my fears.

There was no slow train after four o'clock, so we had to start when it
was still daylight, but he kept his eyes closed till darkness rendered
invisible the objects we passed on our way. He bore the journey very
well on the whole, and on reaching Calais we went on board the steamer
immediately. It was midnight, the sea was splendidly phosphorescent, and
Richard and Mary took great delight in throwing things into it, to see
the sparkles flash about. I had no fear so long as we remained on the
water, for Gilbert always enjoyed it, whatever the weather might be, and
felt utterly free from nervousness.

Arrived at Dover at four in the morning, we went to bed for a little
rest, and after breakfast went out for a walk on the seashore under the
cliffs. Richard had never seen the sea before, and he received a
profound impression from it. The wind was high, and the big green,
crested waves came dashing their foam on to the very rocks at our feet.
The alternate effects of sunshine and masses of clouds, violently driven
and torn by the squalls, were magnificent; and Richard, more than ever,
was fired with the wish to become a painter. His sister, very sensitive
to natural beauty, shared his enthusiasm.

The train for London started at three, and on arriving at Charing Cross
we found a more reassuring telegram, stating that our aunt was somewhat
better. Thus cheered by the hope of seeing her again, Gilbert was able
to eat his supper with us before going to bed. I was greatly alarmed by
his decision to start early in the morning and to travel throughout the
day; but having made such a sacrifice of money in abandoning our
apartment and provisions, and in taking the children with us in the hope
of giving a last satisfaction to his aunt, I understood that he would on
no account run the risk of arriving too late.

It proved a most painful day to us all. Very soon he gave signs of
distress and nervousness in spite of all his efforts to hide them; but
this time he would not leave the train, though I besought him to do so.

We had some provisions in our bags, but, weak as he felt, he could not
swallow a morsel of anything; he could not even drink. Still, at one
time he thought that a little brandy might do him good; unfortunately we
had not any with us, and it being Sunday all the refreshment-rooms were
closed on the line. He strove desperately against the growing cerebral
excitement, now by lying down at full length on the cushions with the
curtains drawn, and his eyes closed (most mercifully we were alone in
our compartment); now by stamping his feet in the narrow space and
rubbing his hands vigorously to bring back circulation. In these
alternate fits of excitement and prostration we reached Doncaster at
five. Luckily there was a stoppage of about forty minutes before we
could proceed to Featherstone, and we turned it to the best advantage by
leaving the railway station and going in search of a quiet hotel, where
we ordered something to eat. Darkness had now set in. We had had a
little walk out of sight of the railway, in the open air, and there
seemed to be not a soul, besides ourselves and the landlord, in the
hotel; so that by the time our dinner made its appearance my husband had
so far recovered that he was able to take both food and drink, which did
him much good.

We arrived at Featherstone station after ten, and as the time of our
arrival had been uncertain, there was nobody to meet us. We left our
luggage, and only taking our handbags, we set off for the vicarage on
foot in the dark and in a deluge of rain. At eleven we were all standing
by the bed of our dear aunt, who knew us perfectly in spite of her weak
state, and whose satisfaction at the sight of Richard and Mary was as
great as unhoped for. The diary says: "Oct. 15, 1882. Our poor aunt
recognized us, but it is only too plain that she cannot live more than
three or four days." The doctor, whom we saw on the following morning,
said that Miss Hamerton was dying of no disease; it was merely the
breaking up of the constitution. She was kept up artificially by
medicine and stimulants, very frequently administered, for which she had
neither taste nor desire. Now she said to the doctor: "I have been very
submissive because I wanted to retain my flickering life until I should
see my nephew and his family; this great happiness has been granted to
me, and now I only desire to go to my final rest." After this the
doctor's prescription was to give her only what she might ask for. We
remained at her bedside throughout the day, with the exception of a
visit to the old church, now restored with care and taste, to my
husband's satisfaction.

We watched our aunt part of the night, and she spoke very often, with
her usual clearness of mind; towards three in the morning our cousins
Emma and Annie came to relieve us. On the morrow there was a change for
the worse with greater weakness, and we determined--my husband and
myself--to watch all night.

Aunt Susan concerned herself about our comfort to the last; she reminded
her nephew to keep up a good fire that I might not get cold; she
insisted upon my making some tea for myself, and upon my husband having
a glass of beer. About two in the morning she asked for a little
champagne; her mind was so clear that, after exchanging a few sentences
with her nephew in the Lancashire dialect and drinking her small glass
of champagne, she said with a smile, "It's good sleck," and lay still
for a while. At three she wanted to be turned on her side, which my
husband did with tender care, happy to be able to do something for her
better than any one else could do it, as she said. I believe she liked
to feel herself in his arms. Then she wished Ben to come up to read the
last prayers. I went to call him, also Annie and Emma, Richard and Mary,
and we all surrounded her bed whilst Ben was reading the prayers
according to her desire, and my husband holding one of her hands all the
time. She rested her eyes upon each of us in turn, closed them never to
open them again, and breathed more and more feebly till she breathed no
more. It was five o'clock in the morning. Her death had been a peaceful
one, without a struggle, without pain,--the death we may desire for all
that we love. Nevertheless, it proved a sore trial for my husband, who
was losing the oldest affection of his life. It was even more severe
than such losses are in most cases, however great may have been the
affection, for it was like complete severance from the past to which
both he and his aunt were so much attached. When they were together the
reminiscences of the old days at Hollins, of the old friends and
relations, of the quaint old customs still prevailing in the youthful
days of the Misses Hamerton, and the great change since, were frequent
topics of conversation. Aunt Susan was extremely intelligent, and her
conversation was full of humor; she also wrote capital letters, and kept
her nephew _au courant_ of all that happened to their common friends.
She shared in his great love and admiration for the beauties of nature,
and her enjoyment of them was intense. When walking out she noticed all
the changes of effect, and her interest never palled.

Great respect to her memory was manifested by the inhabitants of
Featherstone, high and low, who filled the church on the day of the
funeral and on the following Sunday, and who had put on mourning almost
without exception.

On the Sunday night my husband went alone to the cemetery by moonlight,
and remained long at the grave.

Our cousins, Ben and Annie Hinde, both showed great sympathy, and were
also sorrowful on their own account; but Ben thought it bad for Mary and
Richard to be shut up in unrelieved sadness, and was so kind as to take
them to Leeds, Pontefract, Wakefield, and York in turn.

Aunt Susan had left a little legacy to each of her nephews and nieces,
and the rest of her savings to my husband (she had not the disposition
of the capital, which had been left in trust).

She had carefully prepared and addressed little parcels of _souvenirs_
to myself and to each of my children--jewels, seals, silver
pencil-cases, as well as some ancient and curious objects which had been
preserved as relics in the family, and which she knew we should value
and respect.

The day came when we had to leave our dear cousins and the old vicarage,
so full of associations both pleasant and painful. We proceeded towards
Burnley, where a telegram from Mr. Handsley was handed to my husband at
the station. It said that Mr. Handsley was prevented from coming
himself, but that his carriage was in readiness to take us to Reedley
Lodge, where his wife was awaiting us.

We were made very welcome, and Gilbert was happy to see his friends
again after so long a separation. Thursday--our former servant in the
Highlands--came to see us in the evening, and our children, who had
heard a great deal about him, were glad of the meeting.

Mrs. Handsley was a distant relation of my husband, and the relationship
had always been acknowledged. She showed herself eager to divine how her
guests would like to spend the short time at their disposal, and to
fulfil their wishes. She was aware of my husband's faithful attachment
to old associations, both with persons and with places, and she drove us
to see his former friends who were still alive, and also the Hollins.
The children, who had heard so much about it, were greatly interested,
particularly in the room which had been their father's study. Note in
the diary: "October 26, 1882. Went to see the Brun, that I had not seen
since my marriage. Drank some of its water."

Mrs. Handsley said she had it on good authority that Mr. John Hamerton
of Hellifield Peel had expressed on several occasions his regret for the
division existing between the two branches of the family, and his wish
to become acquainted with my husband, whose works he knew and admired.

Now it had been a lifelong desire of his to visit Hellifield Peel--the
ancient tower with the romantic history, and the seat of the elder
branch of the Hamertons. There could be no better opportunity, Mrs.
Handsley suggested. At last he decided for the attempt, and on the
following morning we set out with the children.

It was Gilbert's intention merely to send his card, and beg leave to see
the tower without putting forward a claim of any kind, but on receipt of
the card we were immediately shown into the drawing-room and most
cordially received by Mr. John Hamerton and his sister. I was at once
struck--and so were Richard and Mary--by the likeness between the two
men, though they belonged to different branches of the family. My
husband might have been easily taken for a younger brother of Mr. John
Hamerton. They were both tall and spare, the elder man especially; both
were straight and of somewhat proud bearing; their eyes were blue, with
a straightforward and fearless expression. The lightness of the beard
and hair, together with the development of the forehead, completed the
resemblance, though the whole aspect of Mr. John Hamerton was that of a
country gentleman, whilst hard intellectual work had left its stamp on
the younger man's countenance. They got on very amicably together, and
we were invited to lunch. My husband eagerly desired to go over the
house, but alas for his dreams! it had been transformed according to
modern wants, and the absence of all relics from so many generations was
very striking.

We walked in the park, where we admired the noble trees, the pond, and,
at some distance from the Peel, the beautiful Ribble valley, the subject
of one of Turner's landscapes.

It was now time to go to our train after our long and charming visit;
and when Mr. John Hamerton had given some photographs of Hellifield Peel
to my husband, and we had taken a friendly leave of his sister, he
accompanied us to the station, and invited us to the Peel whenever we
might come that way.

So the long breach in the family now belonged to the past, and was
replaced by mutual goodwill and friendliness. Gilbert wrote in his
diary: "October 27, 1882. One of the most delightful days of my life."

The day after, he went to Burnley with Mr. Handsley and saw the new
school before going to the Council Chamber, where a public reception had
been organized in his honor, and where he delivered an oration in
acknowledgment of many flattering speeches. The formal part of the
reception over, he shook hands with every one who came forward to speak
to him--among whom he still remembered a few.

The afternoon ended with a visit to the Mechanics' Institution, in which
he had never ceased to take great interest. He had been much moved and
gratified by the welcome offered him at Burnley, and never forgot it.

The journey to London was very trying on account of the cold, fog, and
snow. The train ploughed its way slowly and cautiously amidst the
explosive signals, which did not add to our comfort. We felt very sorry
for Mr. and Mrs. Seeley, who were sitting up for us so late into the

On the days following our arrival, my husband introduced Richard to his
friends, took him about London, and chose lodgings for him.

He also saw Mr. F. G. Stephens, who wished him to become a candidate for
the post of Professor of Fine Arts at Oxford; but he did not feel

He called upon Mr. Browning, who was unfortunately out; but as he was on
the point of closing the door, he felt a resistance, and saw a
lady--"the sister of Robert Browning," she explained--to whom his card
had been handed, and who, by mistake, had read the name as Hamilton. It
was only after looking at it more attentively that she had rushed down
the stairs to detain the visitor. He went up with her to the
drawing-room, where he found Mrs. Orr, the sister of Sir Frederick
Leighton, and they had a long and pleasant talk together. Some days
later he had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Browning.

It was lucky that Gilbert had good health just then, and Richard to go
about with him in London, for I was laid up with a bad cold--the result
of having walked a whole day in the snow making calls, without an
opportunity of drying my boots or of warming my feet. Mrs. Seeley was my
kind and thoughtful nurse, and thanks to her care I gradually recovered.

Richard came to say good-bye, and we left Nutfield House for France.
This time we did not go through Paris, but visited everything of
interest at Rouen, Dreux, Orléans, and Bourges. The diary says:
"November 27. In the evening we reached home, very happy to be back

On the 29th of the same month be received a letter from Mr. Sagar, from
which I quote the following passage:--

"Sufficient time has not yet elapsed, I hope, for you to forget us in
Burnley here, and the pleasure we had in seeing you in the Council
Chamber on that, to us, memorable Saturday.

"Next year will be the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the
Institute, and we are going to celebrate this and the general success we
have had by a week's jubilee--the whole of New Year's week. The jubilee
will take the form of a conversazione, a banquet, and a general
exhibition, occupying every room of the place except two. South
Kensington authorities are sending us six cases of examples of fabrics,
pottery, etc., and about sixty frames of pictures, drawings, etc. Can
you use your influence for us in obtaining a representative
exhibition--say of etchings, or anything else of a suitable character
that might suggest itself to you--together, if possible (and this would
delight us all), with your presence, or in the absence of this, if you
can't be here, a short letter for me to read, as on the opening of the

The letter was sent in due time, and acknowledged with grateful thanks.

Mr. Seeley was so kind as to send us news of Richard from time to time;
he wrote in March: "Richard has shown me some of his drawings; I think
he is making progress. One of his last drawings seemed to me excellent;
very tender and subtle. He was down at Kinsgton with us the other day."

This opinion of Mr. Seeley's gave great pleasure to my husband, who had
always entertained doubts about the range of his son's artistic talent.

In the same month he was asked to send a biographical note for "Men of
the Time," a proof that his reputation was on the increase, and Mr.
Haden, who had just come back from America, said that his works were
held there in the highest esteem.

The book on Paris necessitated another journey, and my husband made the
time of it to coincide with the opening of the Salon. This time we
stopped at Auxerre, and visited the four churches, the museum, and the
room in which are exhibited the relics of Marshal Davoust.

The diary says: "April 30. Began this morning another diary in English,
to record the impressions which may serve for my literary work."

On May 1 we had a carriage accident which might have been serious. Our
horse took fright at sight of a steam tram, and ran away on the footpath
at a furious rate, dashing the carriage against the trees and lamp-posts
until he slipped and fell at full length on the asphalt. My husband had
been able to jump out, but a sudden jerk had prevented me from following
him at the moment, and then there was danger of being hurt between the
side of the carriage and the banging door. Gilbert had been running,
hatless, after the carriage to hold the door and enable me to jump out,
and he just succeeded as the horse slipped down and upset the carriage.
I was out in time to escape being hurt, but of course we were both a
good deal shaken, and went back to rest at our hotel.

We had hardly been a week in Paris when my husband began to suffer from
nervousness. A tramway had been laid in front of the hotel, and the
vibration prevented him from sleeping. Then spring was always trying to
him; and above all, he wished himself in the country. Mr. Seeley wrote:
"Nature evidently intended you for a savage; how in the world did you
come to be a literary man? What must Frenchmen think of you, in Paris
and miserable? Even Mrs. Hamerton must feel ashamed of you." He
acknowledged that he was more happy in a primitive sort of existence
than in one too perfectly civilized; still, he could not endure the
privation of books, and he would have felt keenly the absence of works
of art; but he was in deeper sympathy with the beauty of nature than
with artistic beauty--to be denied the last would have been a great
privation, but in the absence of the first he really could not live.

We had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with Mr. Howard-Tripp, who
had recently married Mr. Wyld's daughter, and who, being a
picture-dealer, invited us to go and see his gallery in the Rue St.
Georges. There were a great many fine works that my husband greatly
admired, particularly those by Corot, Daubigny, and Troyon, and the
scheme for the book on "Landscape" having been settled with Mr. Seeley,
he begged Mr. Howard-Tripp to allow reproductions of some of the
pictures to appear in his future work. It was readily granted.

This selection of pictures for the book on "Landscape" gave the author
much additional labor; but it was better to do it now that he was in
Paris than have to come again on purpose. Mr. Seeley had offered to run
over and help with the arrangements, but was prevented by a slight
accident. He then proposed that photographs of the pictures chosen
should be sent to him, that he might have a vote.

We were very near the end of our stay in Paris, and Gilbert wanted to go
to the office of "L'Art," having some business there, and wishing to say
farewell to the manager. He had also invited the sons of M. Schmitt (who
were now in Paris) to meet us in the Square Richelieu and to dine
afterwards at a restaurant. He thought that he could manage both things
on the same day. However, we were hardly out of the omnibus when I
perceived he was unwell; but I had not time to propose anything before
he started off at such a rate that I was obliged to run to follow him:
the worst symptoms were betrayed by his gait, by the congestion of face
and neck, and by the hard stare of the eyes. It was too late to take a
carriage; he could not stop, and could not be spoken to. I saw that a
sure instinct was guiding him out of the crowded street to the by-ways
and least frequented places, and I strove to remain by his side. In the
course of about twenty minutes, I noticed a slackening in his pace, and
as I had been looking about for some refuge, I remarked, through the
open doors of a small café, an empty back-room, and motioned to him to
follow me there. It was almost dark, and there was a divan running along
three sides of the wall; I made him lie down upon it, and went to tell
the _dame-de-comptoir_ (who happened to be the mistress of the house)
that my husband had felt suddenly unwell and required a little rest. She
made no fuss, did not press me to send for a doctor or to administer
anything; she merely promised to prevent any one from going into that
back room, and said we might remain there undisturbed as long as was
needed. After half-an-hour my husband asked for a little brandy and
water, and gradually became himself again. We remained about two hours
in the little room, reading--or pretending to read--the newspapers, and
such was Gilbert's courage and resolution, that he went to keep the
appointment with the young men he had invited. I knew I was not to
breathe a word of what had happened, and I was miserably anxious about
the effect that a dinner in a restaurant _en vogue_ might have upon the
nerves of my poor patient. Strange to say, he bore it very well, and
played his part as entertainer quite merrily. But after dinner I longed
to get him away, and proposed to take an open carriage for a drive in
the Champs Élysées. This was accepted, and I believe he really enjoyed

We agreed to leave Paris the following evening, and I went to town alone
in the afternoon for a few things which had been postponed to the last
moment. We reached Autun on May 26, at which date the diary says: "I am
very happy to be in my home, which I prefer to all the finest palaces in

In the spring he had suffered repeatedly from great pain in one of his
legs, and had attributed it to rheumatism; now he began to feel the pain
again in the left foot, and it soon became so acute that the doctor was
sent for. He said it was an attack of gout, but gave hope of an ultimate
cure, because the patient's constitution was not a gouty one. The cause
of the attack was insufficient exercise in the open air. He prescribed a
severe regimen, less sedentary work, and as much walking and riding as

For twenty-one nights my husband could not go to bed, but remained
stretched on a couch or sitting in an arm-chair; when the pain was less
severe he laid himself down upon the bed for a short time, but he hardly
ever got to sleep. His fortitude and patience were incredible, and he
bore the almost intolerable sufferings with admirable resignation. He
tried to read, and even to write upon a desk placed on his knees, and
talked much about his plan for the book on "Landscape."

Mr. Seeley wrote:--

"I am heartily sorry to hear of your attack of gout. But I am relieved
to hear that it is not erysipelas, which must have been alarming.
Possibly the discomfort you suffered in Paris may have been a
premonitory symptom of this attack, and you may look forward to the
enjoyment of better health when it has passed away."

Mr. Haden declared that he felt "delighted" by this attack, as
indicative of a change for the better in the constitution; he hoped that
the tendency to nervousness and insomnia would disappear, or at any rate
greatly diminish.

We were now daily expecting Richard, and Mr. Seeley had said on June 25:
"Richard was with us on Saturday, his farewell visit. We like him more
and more every time we see him." He was coming back--at my request--to
pass an examination in English, the same that his brother had passed
successfully two years ago for the _Certificat d'aptitude_, after which
he got his post of professor at Mâcon. I had thought that if Richard
failed as an artist he might be glad to fall back upon a professorship,
and it turned out so. His father was pleased to notice how much better
and more fluently he spoke English on his return from London; but at the
same time, after seeing the drawings done in England, he was confirmed
in the opinion that originality and invention were lacking to make a
real artist of his younger son. What ought to be said was very
perplexing: the drawings were good enough in their way, the progress
undeniable--but they were only copies, even when done from the living
model--the creative spark, the individual artistic stamp, were absent.
My husband allowed himself some time for consideration before warning
Richard that he thought him mistaken in his choice of a career.

However, after having passed a successful examination it was Richard
who, of his own accord, told his father that he felt very doubtful about
the ultimate result of his artistic studies. He believed they were begun
too late, and that his chances against students who had several years'
start were very small--they had been drawing and painting since the age
of thirteen or fourteen, whilst he was preparing himself for his
degrees. The ease with which he had carried off the _Certificat
d'aptitude_ made him sanguine about being ready for the _Agrégation_ in
the course of a year, after which he would be entitled to a post in the
University. He would not abandon art, he said, but would not follow it
as a profession.

It was a great relief that the resolution should have been his own; but
it surprised Mr. Seeley considerably, and he wrote to my husband:--

"From what you tell me of his want of enjoyment in the practice of art,
the determination seems wise. I suppose we take it for granted that a
man must take pleasure in doing whatever he can do well; but there is no
reason in the world why ability and inclination should always go
together. A man with a good eye and that general ability and power of
application which make a good student may easily be a draughtsman above
the average, but it is quite intelligible that he should take more
pleasure in other studies."

At the end of August Gilbert went with Stephen and his eldest nephew,
Maurice Pelletier, for a cruise of ten days on the Saône. They were on
the new catamaran "L'Arar," and enjoyed their voyage thoroughly.

On October 2, Richard left us to go to Paris to have the benefit of _les
Cours de la Sorbonne_, as a preparation for _L'Agrégation d'Anglais_;
and in December Stephen asked for a year's leave of absence from his
post, in order to pursue his English studies in London. It is therefore
conceivable that the father's health should have been impaired by
anxiety and his brain overtaxed by the numerous works he had undertaken
to meet his responsibilities. He was at the same time writing "Human
Intercourse" for Messrs. Macmillan, "Paris" for the "Portfolio," and the
book on "Landscape" was begun.

In November he had written a very long letter to Miss Betham-Edwards,
mainly in explanation of the word "sheer" used for boats, then about our
doings, and he says:--

"We have had the house upset by workpeople, but we are settled again
after a great bother, which I dreaded before, as Montaigne used to dread
similar disturbances; but now it is over I feel myself much more
comfortable and orderly, though the reform has cost me a considerable
loss of time. The rooms look prettier and are less crammed.

"I got the other day a letter of twenty pages from a cousin in New
Zealand who had never written to me for thirty years. It was the most
interesting biography of struggle, adventure, danger, hard work, and
final success. It is a great pity that the men who go through such lives
have not the literary talent to make autobiographies that can be
published. I have another cousin whose history is _quite_ as good as
'Robinson Crusoe,' and I have engaged him to write it, but he never
will. If I lived near him I could gradually get the material out of him;
but at a distance I cannot get him even to write rough notes. On the
other hand, we literary people are quite humdrum people in our ways of
life, and our autobiographies would generally be of little interest.

"I have been reading Ariosto lately in Italian, and am struck both by
his qualities and deficiencies. He is all on the surface; but what a
wealth of inventive power, and what a well-sustained, unflagging energy
and cheerfulness! The descriptions are frequently superb, and there is a
go in the style generally that is very stimulating. It is like watching
the flow of a bright, rapid, brimming river. I don't think we have any
English poet of the same kind. Spenser is rather like, but heavier, and
just lacking that brightness in combination with movement. Spenser and
Byron together contain many of the qualities of Ariosto."

The first note in the diary for 1884 says: "I must try to economize time
in all little things where economy is possible without injury to the
quality of work. I cannot economize it very much in the work itself
without risk of lowering quality."

It was a pleasure for my husband to see that his articles on the
architecture of Paris had been so favorably noticed as to bring requests
for contributions from "The Builder" and "L'Architecte." Mr. Seeley
wrote to him: "I think it is a feather in your cap that your
architectural notes should have brought you invitations to write for
professional journals."

My brother-in-law, M. Pelletier, had left Algiers, and was now Économe
at the Lycée at Marseilles. He had suggested that, it being possible to
go from Chalon to Marseilles by water, we might pay him a visit and see
the course of the Rhône at the same time. My husband felt greatly
tempted to accept, for more than one reason: he would be able at the
same time to take notes and to make observations on the way for the book
on "Landscape," and to come to a conclusion about the possibility of the
Rhône scheme. We might divide the places of interest into two series,
and see one of them in going and the other in coming back, with a
pleasant time of rest at our friend's in the interval.

The itinerary was carefully prepared to miss nothing on the way, and on
April 8 we left my mother in charge of the house, whilst my husband,
myself, and Mary started from Chalon, where we went on board the steamer
for Mâcon. My husband having often seen the town, was left to his
writing whilst I took Mary to see the church of Brou. From Mâcon to
Lyons we enjoyed the landscape from the deck of the steamer,
particularly Trévoux, and L'Ile Barbe as we neared Lyons.

Note in the diary: "We passed through some lovely scenery, but I came to
the conclusion never to boat with the 'Arar' below Courzon."

So long as he remained on the water or in little out-of-the-way places,
Gilbert was well enough and enjoyed himself exceedingly, but as soon as
we were obliged to stay in large towns he began to suffer; at Lyons,
having attempted to go to the Museum when it was crowded, he had to
hurry out, and it is a miracle how he managed to reach the hotel, where
he went through one of the worst attacks of nervousness in his life. It
did not last very long, and when he was well again I took Mary to

By rail we proceeded to Vienne, then to Valence and Pierre-latte,
where it was pitch dark as we got out, and raining heavily. To our
dismay we saw no sign of either omnibus or carriage. However, a man was
coming up to us in a leisurely way with a broken lantern, and he
explained that the "'bus had not come because it was raining." He led us
to a very queer--apparently deserted--hotel, where the getting of sheets
for the narrow beds seemed to be an almost insurmountable difficulty;
and as to cases for the pillows, in sheer despair of ever getting any,
we had to use clean towels out of our bags in their stead. The
double-bedded room was adorned with a gallery of pastel portraits so wan
and faded that they looked by the faint gleam of moonlight through the
shutters like a procession of ghosts; and there were so many chairs in
Mary's room, and such an immensely long table, that it must surely have
been used by the ghosts as a dining-hall. Nevertheless, we slept
soundly, had a charming excursion in the morning, and a good, though
late, _déjeuner_ afterwards, for it chanced to be the drawing of lots
for the conscription, and the hotel was crowded by famished
officials--Mayor, _adjoints_, gendarmes, officers, etc. Of course there
was nothing for unofficial people like us but to wait and catch the
dishes as they left the important table, and appropriate what might
remain upon them. There was enough for us, and the wine was
excellent,--so good indeed that we thought of having a cask sent to La
Tuilerie. The great people having departed, we were able to talk at our
leisure with the landlady, but all of a sudden we became aware that it
was getting time to go, and asked for the bill. "Oh! there was no need
for a bill, she could reckon in her head--but there was no hurry." We
explained that there was some hurry, as the carriage we had ordered
would be at the door presently.

"Mais pourquoi? pourquoi vous en aller?" exclaimed the simple woman,
with an air of consternation; "est-ce que vous n'êtes pas bien ici?"

Bourg St. Andéol, where we stopped next, is a very interesting place. My
husband was particularly pleased with the little town and the Hôtel
Nicolai. Our arrival created quite a stir in the sleepy, regular routine
of the little bourg, and the doors and windows it can boast of became
alive with curious eyes as we passed along the deserted streets. In an
open carriage we were driven to Pont St. Esprit, and noticed the long
lines of mulberry trees on each side of the roads; the driver explained
that they are planted to feed the silkworms, and that in two months they
would be leafless. We took the steamer again at Pont St. Esprit, late in
the following day, for Avignon. In the morning of Sunday we all went to
hear High Mass in the Cathedral, then to the Palace of the Popes, and
round the walls. In the afternoon we visited the tomb of John Stuart
Mill, and my husband left his card at the house of Miss Taylor. We then
heard music in the open air, and saw the old bridge.

It was a very pleasant fortnight that we spent at Marseilles with our
relations, the only drawback being Gilbert's uncertain health, which
prevented him from going out much; though close to the expanse of the
Mediterranean, I suppose he had the feeling expressed in the preface to
"Landscape" in these words: "The lover of wilderness always feels
confined among the evidences of a minutely careful civilization."

Towards the end of the day, when the blinding glare of sunshine was
softened, we generally went to the Vieux Port, where there was an
uninterrupted succession of picturesque scenes among sailors of all
nations and ships of every description; or to La Joliette, to watch the
arrival or departure of the Chinese vessels and other curious craft. At
other times we walked in the Pare Borelli or on the Corniche.

A novel feature in our life was the frequent visits to the theatre with
our friends. It was most remarkable that my husband should take such a
sudden fancy to the Opera; he could not account for it himself, except
by noticing that "he felt at home in it." We invariably took _fauteuils
d'orchestre_, so that he only saw the musicians, actors, and
scenery--hardly any of the occupants of the theatre, except those in the
stage-boxes. It is a curious fact that in the space of a fortnight he
heard more operas than in all the rest of his life.

He wrote the greater part of the day in a very quiet room, which M.
Pelletier, who was well acquainted with his tastes, had fitted up
accordingly at the very beginning of our visit.

On our return we stopped to see Tarascon and Beaucaire, where we had
still some friends. In the last place the director of the gas-works
obligingly showed us through the house which had been my father's. We
also visited Nîmes, Orange, and Montélimart, giving a whole day to each
place. It was already very hot in the south, and the perfume of the
acacias in full bloom everywhere was almost more than we could bear,
especially at Montélimart. At Orange, after seeing the noble Roman
remains, we partly ascended the hill to see the Ventoux range of
mountains; then went on to Valence for the night. We were on board the
steamer at five in the morning, and had a delightful voyage to Lyons,
during which Gilbert took copious notes in the map-book he had prepared
on purpose. After resting a day, we went straight on to Chalon by boat,
and had a pleasant day with the captain, who invited us to _déjeuner_
with him on board.

On the whole, we were satisfied with our journey; but the information my
husband had collected on the way convinced him that the Rhône project,
as he had planned it, was utterly impracticable.

We were soon in great anxiety about our relatives at Marseilles, for we
learned that cholera had broken out there early in July. Gilbert,
without the least hesitation, immediately wrote to M. Pelletier,
inviting him and his children to La Tuilerie, where they would be safe
from the terrible scourge. Our brother-in-law readily availed himself of
the invitation for his children; but thought it his duty to remain at
his post, and set an example to the panic-stricken population.

The arrival of our nephews and niece from the very centre of
contamination did not tend to augment our popularity in the
neighborhood, and we were made to understand--very plainly--that the
house was tabooed, along with ourselves. Our milk from the farm just
opposite to our house was brought to us half-way, and deposited in the
middle of the road, where our servant had to go and fetch it--no one
amongst the inmates of the farm being sufficiently courageous either to
bring it within our walls, or to deliver it to a servant who had
approached "les Marseillais."

Ever since Richard had come home he had been steadily preparing himself
for his examination, with the help of his father. Every day they read
English poetry together, and Gilbert gave him all the necessary
information as to the meaning, rhythm, and structure.

In moments of relaxation he joined the family circle, frequently
enlivened by the presence of a young couple, M. and Mme. Pochon, who had
recently come to live at the schist-works, where the husband was
managing engineer. The lady had a charming voice, and used to sing in
the church with Mary, who played the harmonium. This led to an intimacy,
and with an additional singer and pianist in the person of my niece we
often organized private concerts, in which my husband took great
pleasure. There was nothing he enjoyed more than such private
recreation, except perhaps the satisfaction of taking trouble to make
things agreeable to others. Here is an instance among many.

On a fearfully hot day in August he overheard a _cantinière_ who,
talking to her husband from the top of a wagon which had just stopped
near La Tuilerie, was lamenting her inability to find a shady place for
the _déjeuner_ of the officers, who would shortly arrive. He saw at once
that he might offer these hot and weary warriors the unexpected pleasure
of a cool resting-place. So he went to the _cantinière_, and proposed to
have the officers' table set upon the lawn, under the shady elder trees.
The woman could hardly credit such a charitable offer, and warned him
that the fresh-looking grass would certainly suffer from it; but he only
smiled, saying that it could not be helped, but that he hoped to induce
the grass to grow again with copious watering.

The table was set, chairs were brought from the house, also live
charcoal for the portable stove, and we witnessed a very entertaining
scene from behind the shutters when the regiment halted.

The Colonel began to swear and scold at sight of the white, dusty,
sultry road where the _cantinière_ had stopped, and for a few moments
refused to listen to her explanations; but when he saw Mr. Hamerton
coming out of the garden gate to invite him inside with his brother
officers, he dismounted to salute him, and stood fixed in a state of
ecstacy before the inviting white table-cloth, looking so fresh and cool
between the green grass of the lawn and the green leaves of the trees.
The other officers shared this pleasant impression, and were profuse in
their thanks. After a short talk with the master of the house--who was
called away to his own _déjeuner_ by the bell--they drank his health,
and sat down with unfeigned satisfaction to their meal.

It was not only the lawn which was thus invaded; for there being in the
courtyard a deep well of deliciously cold water, the soldiers were not
slow to find their way to it, and after quenching their thirst and
filling up their _bidons_, they stretched themselves at full length upon
the ground wherever there was shade, either from tree or wall.

This general enjoyment of an hour's delicious rest amply compensated my
husband for the havoc done in the garden.

We were rather a numerous household then, at meal-times, with the
addition of my mother, M. Pelletier and his three children, my brother,
his wife and two little girls, so that when the youngest officer entered
the dining-room--as spokesman--to reiterate the thanks of his brother
officers, he felt abashed by so many eyes fixed upon him; still, he
managed to get through his duty--somewhat hurriedly--and soon after the
regiment was marching off; the men, now rested and refreshed, singing
lustily at the top of their voices, and waving their _képis_ towards La

Stephen arrived for the vacation towards the middle of August; but the
suspense in which we were kept about Richard's examination was most
unfavorable to the health of his father. At last there were great
rejoicings when a telegram conveyed to us his brilliant success. He came
out second on the list, the first being a lady--Miss Williams--of whom
he had often spoken to us in high terms, having been with her as a
student at the Sorbonne, and who has since become directress of that
most useful institution, the Franco-English Guild.

We were told that Richard was the youngest _agrégé_ in France, and of
course we were proud of it. Mr. Seeley wrote: "I heartily congratulate
you on Richard's great success. It is not often that a young man can so
speedily justify his choice of a career."

"Human Intercourse" was published in September, and sold well, in spite
of its cold reception by the Press. Mr. Hamerton did not allow
unfavorable criticism to disturb him much. There was only one kind of
attack that he did not bear patiently, I believe, and that was being
told that he had no _genius_. "I don't pretend to have genius; I never
said I had; then why make it a reproach?" he used to say.

There was a second edition as early as December, and I give here a
fragment of one of the numerous letters the author received, which may
prove that public opinion was more favorable to the book than the

"You have given me some pleasant hours as I read and pondered over
remarks of yours in 'Human Intercourse.' It is not the first time that
you have tinted the current of my life. I hereby certify to my
gratitude, not that I am of any account in the world, but because it
seems to me a sort of duty, and because, were our positions reversed, it
would please ME to know that I was appreciated even by a stranger. What
you say about priests and women interests me deeply as a clergyman...."

The letter contained eleven pages of confidential talk, mostly about
personal experiences in the discharge of professional duty; clearly
showing that the subject had not been treated in vain in "Human

There had been a serious strike at the schist-works of La Comaille
(close to Pré-Charmoy), and the hands, now that the winter was coming
upon them, were distressed and greatly disheartened. Mr. Hamerton tried
his best to mollify the engineer and to reason with the men, and make
them see that the strike could not bring them any advantage. At last the
workmen asked to be allowed to return to their work; but the engineer
refused to take back the promoters of the strike, among whom was the
husband of one of our former servants. The poor woman came in tears to
beseech her "bon Monsieur" to obtain M. Pochon's forgiveness, for if her
husband were kept out of work much longer her three little children
would have to starve. The landlord having already threatened to turn
them out, my husband had paid the rent of their cottage for a year, and
now he pleaded so warmly the cause of the deluded workmen to Madame
Pochon,--asking for her influence in their favor,--that together they
carried their point, and so gave comfort to several poor families. With
the exception of the two ringleaders, who had used threats and violent
language, all the hands were taken back again. Our former servant's
gratitude still survives; one of her children never fails to send the
united wishes of the family for the New Year, and the letters always
begin with, "Nos chers bienfaiteurs."

The great kindness and generosity of "L'Anglais" were so well known in
our neighborhood that the people had no hesitation in applying at La
Tuilerie for clothing, medicines, or help of any kind. Even the beggars
who came regularly, lingered after pocketing their penny in the hope of
seeing him personally as he crossed the courtyard or went out on the
road, for then--as an old woman confided to one of the maids--"On est
sûr d'une pièce blanche." He was entirely free from false pride, and
looked down upon no one deserving respect. One girl whom we had had in
our service for five years, and who only left us to be married, begged
as a great favor that Mary should be godmother to her child. He gave his
leave at once, being the first to recall how attached and devoted she
had been to our daughter when a baby. And when she called with her
husband, he always shook hands with them both, and offered them

He showed the same ready sympathy to the class of young authors and
artists in want of help and advice, trying to get them employment, and
helping them to improve their work. He often accepted for the
"Portfolio" articles which greatly increased his labors; for he had to
correct and to rewrite parts--if he perceived some promise of talent in
their authors. He also took the trouble of criticizing minutely numbers
of etchings and drawings, pointing out possible alterations which might
make them acceptable to the public, and by so doing he helped to form
and encouraged a great number of artists.

Mr. Seeley was anxious that the book on "Landscape" might be out in good
time for the Christmas sale, and explained the many reasons which made
it desirable; but although the author had done his best to be ready, he
began to doubt of the possibility. Having been anxious about it and
hurried, he became subject to painful attacks of palpitation. As soon as
Mr. Seeley heard of it he wrote:--

"Pray do not run any risk of ruining your health. Tell me exactly how
you stand, how much remains to be written. Then we will face the
position like sensible people, and consider what is best to be done. You
must neither risk your health by overwork nor your reputation by hasty
work. What a pity it is that you don't enjoy games! I find tennis such a
relief from worries. I have also a double tricycle, on which I ride
every morning with my garden boy. It is a capital exercise; the steering
occupies one's thoughts almost as well as a game. One can't think much
of business while going seven or eight miles an hour with the
probability that any considerable swerve will lead to an upset."

Gilbert sometimes went on a velocipede, and liked it, but did not
possess one at that time.

In November there was good news for the boys. Richard had been told by
M. Pelletier that a post at Marseilles would soon be vacant, and that he
might apply for it. He did so, and got it, whilst Stephen replaced him
at Poitiers, so that now they were both provided with good situations.



"Landscape."--The Autobiography begun.--"Imagination in landscape
painting."--"The Saône."--"Portfolio papers."

In October, 1884, all the five hundred large-paper copies of "Landscape"
had been ordered except fifty; but the last pages of MS. were not sent
off until January 30, 1885.

The author wrote to the publisher: "At last I have the pleasure of
sending you a page of MS. with 'The End' written upon it;" and as if
relieved from his task he went on to relate the following incidents:--

"There has been a curious attempt at assassination here yesterday. A
doctor named Vala was stopped by what seemed to be a nun, who asked for
a place in his gig. He stretched out his hand to take a parcel belonging
to the nun, took it, and then offered her his hand. He touched it,
thought 'That's the hand of a man,' whipped his horse, and drove off at
full speed. When at a distance he examined the contents of the parcel,
which turned out to be a loaded revolver and a dagger. He thinks the
project was to assassinate him _en route_.

"Other curious story.

"Night before last a strange man got tipsy in our village and began to
blab and talk. He asked for a bottle without a bottom, and for some
woollen rags. He was suspected of having a dynamite project, and the
mayor was fetched at one in the morning to look after him, so he
arrested him and took him to Autun at two a.m. On the way the man
coolly confessed that he was one of a dynamite gang of ten, and
threatened the mayor and the village when he got out of prison.

"So you see we have our dangers as well as you."

"Human Intercourse" was more popular in America than in England. Roberts
Brothers wrote: "We have been selling three thousand copies of 'Human
Intercourse;' does not that speak well for your popularity here? As yet
the pirates have left it alone, although the 'Intellectual Life' has
been pirated." Still, the author continued to receive many letters
testifying to the appreciation of the book by his countrymen. Mr. Wyld
said: "I have read 'Human Intercourse' from end to end, and intend to do
so more than once, taking and considering each essay separately."

Mrs. Henry Ady (Julia Cartwright) wrote that she and her husband had
been charmed with it. The book seemed to have influenced women
powerfully, for their letters about it were very numerous.

The news of Richard's health became disquieting early in the month of
January; he suffered much from headaches, and could not work. He was
well nursed at his uncle's, M. Pelletier's, by his grandmother, who
happened to be on a visit to her son-in-law. The doctor said it was a
kind of nondescript fever with cerebral and typhoid symptoms, to which
young people not acclimatized to Marseilles were very liable on settling
there. In Richard's case there had been a predisposition on account of
the hard work he had gone through for the _Agrégation_. He had looked as
if he bore it easily while it lasted; but the strain had been more
severe than he was aware of; and two years after his recovery he told me
that he had never felt the same since that illness at Marseilles.

In February, Miss Betham-Edwards having sent a volume of her poems to my
husband, he wrote in acknowledgment:--

"I have read your book in the evenings and with pleasure, especially
some pieces that I have read many times. 'The Wife's Prayer,' for
one, seems to me quite a perfect piece of work; and not less perfect
in another way, and quite a different may, is 'Don. Jose's Mule,
Jacintha.' The delicate humor of the latter, in combination with
really deep pathos and most finished workmanship, please me
immensely. Besides this, I have a fellow-feeling for Don José,
because I have an old pony that I attend to myself always, etc.,

"I have been vexed for some time now by the tendency to jealous
hostility between France and England. I had hoped some years ago that
the future might establish a friendly understanding between the two
nations, based upon their obvious interest in the first place, and
perhaps a little on the interchange of ideas; but I fear it was
illusory, and that at some future date, at present undeterminable, there
will be another war between them, as in the days of our fathers. I have
thought sometimes of trying to found an Anglo-French Society or League,
the members of which should simply engage themselves to do their best on
all occasions to soften the harsh feeling between the two nations. I
dare say some literary people would join such a league. Swinburne very
probably would, and so would you, I fancy, I could get adhesions in the
French University and elsewhere. Some influential political Englishmen,
such as Bright, might be counted upon. I would have begun the thing long
since; but I dread the heavy correspondence it would bring upon me. I
would have a very small subscription, as the league ought to include
working men. Peace and war hang on such trifles sometimes that a society
such as I am imagining might possibly on some occasion have influence
enough to prevent a war. It should be understood also that by a sort of
freemasonry a member of the society would endeavor to serve any member
of it belonging to the other nation.

"I don't know if you have observed how harshly Matthew Arnold writes of
France now. He accuses the whole nation of being sunk in _immorality_,
which is very unfair. There are many perfectly well-conducted people in
France; and why does not Arnold write in the same strain against Italy,
which is more immoral still? The French expose themselves very much by
their incapacity for hypocrisy--all French faults are _seen_."

The winter was very cold, and all the ponds were covered with ice,
affording good opportunity for skating. My husband undertook to teach
Mary to skate, and they often went on the ice together.

"Landscape" was published on March 12, and on the 19th all the
large-paper copies were gone, and the small ones dropping off daily.

The author wrote to Mr. Seeley:--

"I am glad 'Landscape' is moving nicely. Nothing is more disagreeable to
an author than to see an enterprising publisher paid for his trust and
confidence by anxiety and loss, especially when the publisher is a
friend. Failure with this book would have been especially painful to me,
as I should have attributed it in great part to my slowness with the
MS., and consequent want of punctuality."

Mr. P. Q. Stephens said: "The book is a superb affair, and, as far as I
have seen it, deserves all praise."

R. L. Stevenson wrote:--

"BOURNEMOUTH. _March_ 16, 1885.

"My Dear Hamerton,--Various things have been reminding me of my
misconduct; first, Swan's application for your address; second, a sight
of the sheets of your 'Landscape' book; and last, your note to Swan,
which he was so kind as to forward. I trust you will never suppose me to
be guilty of anything more serious than an idleness, partially
excusable. My ill-health makes my rate of life heavier than I can well
meet, and yet stops me from earning more. My conscience, sometimes
perhaps too easily stifled, but still (for my time of life and the
public manners of the age) fairly well alive, forces me to perpetual and
almost endless transcriptions. On the back of all this, any
correspondence hangs like a thundercloud, and just when I think I am
getting through my troubles, crack, down goes my health, I have a long,
costly sickness, and begin the world again. It is fortunate for me I
have a father, or I should long ago have died; but the opportunity of
the aid makes the necessity none the more welcome. My father has
presented me with a beautiful house here--or so I believe, for I have
not yet seen it, being a cage bird, but for nocturnal sorties in the
garden. I hope we shall soon move into it, and I tell myself that some
day perhaps we may have the pleasure of seeing you as our guest. I trust
at least that you will take me as I am, a thoroughly bad correspondent,
and a man, a hater, indeed, of rudeness in others, but too often rude in
all unconsciousness himself; and that you will never cease to believe
the sincere sympathy and admiration that I feel for you and for your

"About the 'Landscape,' which I had a glimpse of while a friend of mine
was preparing a review, I was greatly interested, and could write and
wrangle for a year on every page: one passage particularly delighted me,
the part about Ulysses--jolly. Then, you know, that is just what I fear
I have come to think landscape ought to be in literature: so there we
should be at odds. Or perhaps not so much as I suppose, as Montaigne
says it is a pot with two handles, and I own I am wedded to the
technical handle, which (I likewise own, and freely) you do well to keep
for a mistress. I should much like to talk with you about some other
points; it is only in talk that one gets to understand. Your delightful
Wordsworth trap I have tried on two hardened Wordsworthians, not that I
am not one myself. By covering up the context, and asking them to guess
what the passage was, both (and both are very clever people, one a
writer, one a painter) pronounced it a guide-book. 'Do you think it
unusually good guide-book?' I asked. And both said, 'No, not at all!'
Their grimace was a picture when I showed the original.

"I trust your health and that of Mrs. Hamerton keep better; your last
account was a poor one. I was unable to make out the visit I had hoped
as (I do not know if you heard of it) I had a very violent and dangerous
hemorrhage last spring. I am almost glad to have seen death so close
with all my wits about me, and not in the customary lassitude and
disenchantment of disease. Even thus clearly beheld, I find him not so
terrible as we suppose. But, indeed, with the passing of years, the
decay of strength, the loss of all my old active and pleasant habits,
there grows more and more upon me that belief in the kindness of this
scheme of things, and the goodness of our veiled God, which is an
excellent and pacifying compensation. I trust, if your health continues
to trouble you, you may find some of the same belief. But perhaps my
fine discovery is a piece of art, and belongs to a character cowardly,
intolerant of certain feelings, and apt to self-deception. I don't think
so, however; and when I feel what a weak and fallible vessel I was
thrust into this hurly-burly, and with what marvellous kindness the wind
has been tempered to my frailties, I think I should be a strange kind of
ass to feel anything but gratitude.

"I do not know why I should inflict this talk upon you; but when I
summon the rebellious pen, he must go his own way: I am no Michael
Scott, to rule the fiend of correspondence. Most days he will none of
me: and when he comes, it is to rape me where he will.

"Yours very sincerely,


Mr. Seeley wrote:--

"My brother the Professor has been staying with us and reading the
'Graphic Arts' and 'Landscape' most assiduously. He was deeply
interested, and said they seemed to him most important works, giving him
views about art which had never entered his mind before. He seems to
feel that you are doing in Art what he is doing in History."

For the present, Mr. Hamerton had no great work in hand. There was the
usual writing for the "Portfolio," and he had been asked for articles by
the editors of "Longmans' Magazine" and the "Atlantic Monthly," but he
had not yet made up his mind as to the subject of a new important book,
and was discussing various schemes both with Mr. Seeley and Mr. Craik.

In one of his letters to Mr. Seeley he said:--

"I have sometimes thoughts of writing a book (not too long) on the
Elements or Principles of Art Criticism, in the same way as G. H. Lewes
once wrote a series of papers for the 'Fortnightly' on the Principles of
Success in Literature. I think I could make such papers interesting by
giving examples both from critics and artists, and from various kinds of
art. It would add to the interest of such papers if they had a few
illustrations specially for themselves, and as I went on with the
writing I could tell you beforehand what illustrations might be useful,
though I cannot say beforehand what might be required. I should make it
my business to show in what real criticism, that is worth writing and
worth reading, differs from the hasty expression of mere personal
sensations which is so often substituted for it; and I would show in
some detail how there are different criteria, and how they may be justly
or unjustly applied, giving examples. The articles might be reprinted
afterwards in the shape of a moderate-sized book like my 'Life of
Turner,' but about half as thick, and if we kept the illustrations small
they might go into the book. Such a piece of work would have the
advantage of giving me opportunities for showing how strongly tempted we
all are to judge works of art by some special criterion instead of
applying different criteria. For example, I remember hearing a man say
before a picture that told a story that 'its color was good, and, after
all, the color was the main thing in a picture.' Another would have
criticised the drawing of the figures, a third the composition, a fourth
the handling. Lastly, it might have occurred to some one to inquire how
the story was told, and whether the artist had understood the story he
had to tell.

"I remember being in an exhibition with Robinson, the famous engraver,
more than twenty, or perhaps thirty, years ago, and was very much struck
by a criticism of his on a picture which seemed to me very good in many
respects, though the effect was a very quiet one. He said, 'There's no
light and shade;' and the want of good, strong oppositions of light and
dark that could be effectively engraved seemed to him quite a fatal
defect, though on looking at the work in color the absence of these
oppositions did not strike me, as other qualities predominated. Here was
the engraver's _professional_ point of view interfering with his
judgment of a picture that was good, but could not be engraved

"Then we have the interference of feelings quite outside of art, as when
Roman Catholics tolerate hideous pictures because they represent some
saint, although they have really been painted from, a hired model, and
only represent a saint because the artist, with a view to sale, has
given a saint's name to the portrait of the model.

"Also there is the judgment by the literary criterion, which is often
applied to pictures by thoughtful and learned people. They become deeply
interested in one picture because it alludes (in a manner which seems to
them intelligent) to something they know by books, and they pass with
indifference better works that have no literary association.

"Then you have the judgment of pictures which goes by the pleasure of
the eyes, and tastes a picture with the eyes as wine and good cooking
are tasted by the tongue. I believe this ocular appreciation is nearer
to the essential nature of art than the literary or intellectual
appreciation of it. _Vide_ Titian's pictures, which never have anything
to say to the intellect, but are a feast to the eyes.

"Then you have the _scientific_ criterion, which judges a landscape
favorably because strata are correctly superposed, their dip accurately
given, and 'faults' noticed. In the figure this criticism relies greatly
on anatomy.

"I have jotted down these paragraphs roughly merely to show something of
the idea, but of course in the work itself there would be much more to
be said--other criteria to examine, and a fuller inquiry to be gone into
about these. I should rely for the interest of the papers, and for their
_raison d'être_ in the 'Portfolio,' very much upon the examples alluded
to, both in quotations from critics and in references to works of art.

"With regard to the papers on Landscape Painters--if I wrote the
introductory chapter it would be on landscape-_painting_ as an art, not
so much on the painters. I should trace something of its history, but
should especially show how it differs from figure-painting in certain
conditions. For example, in figure-painting composition does not much
interfere with truthful drawing, as a figure can always be made to
conform to desired shapes by simply altering its attitude and putting it
at a greater or less distance from the spectator, but in landscape
composition always involves the re-shaping of the objects themselves.
Again, color is of much more sentimental importance in landscape than in
the figure. _Purple_ hills, a _yellow_ streak in the sky, and _gray_
water produce together quite a strong effect on the poetical
imagination, whereas the same colors in a lady's dress are but so much
millinery. If the landscape is engraved it loses nine-tenths of its
poetical significance; if the portrait of the lady is engraved there is
only a sacrifice of some colors.

"_October_ 8, 1885."

Meanwhile, it occurred to him that he might undertake his autobiography,
and stipulate that it should only be published after his death. He told
me that his health being so uncertain and his earnings so precarious, he
had thought the autobiography might be a resource for me in case of his
premature decease, as he saw clearly that notwithstanding the
considerable sums which his recent successes had brought him, it was not
likely that he should ever save enough to leave me independent.

As he had himself introduced the subject, I led him to consider Mary's
future prospects in life, and said that Stephen and Richard being now
provided with situations, we ought to think of their sister. Her musical
education had now reached such a point that no teaching afforded by
Autun could be of any value to her, and it was my desire that she might
have the advantage of instruction and direction in her studies from one
of the best professors at the Conservatoire of Paris. I realized that it
would be a great tax, and a no less great sacrifice for my husband to be
left alone while I should be in Paris with Mary; but I also knew that he
never shrank from what he considered a duty--and we both agreed that it
was a duty to put our daughter in a position to earn her living, if
circumstances made it necessary.

Accordingly I inquired who was thought to be the best executant on the
piano in Paris, and we had it on good authority that it was M.
Delaborde, Professor at the Conservatoire, with whom we corresponded
immediately. Although we had friendly recommendations, he would not
pledge himself to anything before examining Mary, and we started for
Paris in some uncertainty. I had engaged a little apartment at the Hôtel
de la Muette, where we were known, and a pleasant room looking on the
garden had been reserved for us, not to inconvenience other people by
Mary's practice.

I knew the result of the examination would give Gilbert great pleasure,
so I gave him every detail about it. M. Delaborde, who has the
reputation of being extremely severe and somewhat blunt, was most kind
and encouraging. After making Mary play to him for an hour, he said:
"That will do; there remains a good deal to be done and acquired, but
you _may_ acquire it by hard work and good tuition in three years. I
consent to take you as one of my pupils, but I must let you know at once
that I am very exacting. Don't be afraid of me, for I see that you are
industrious, and that you really _love_ music. And now I am going to pay
you a compliment which has its value, coming from me--I find no defect
to correct in your method." After that he gave us a long list of music
to be bought for practice, and said we might come twice a week. He also
inquired what direction I wished her studies to take, and whether she
intended to give lessons. I answered that I wished her studies to be of
the most serious character, exactly as if she were preparing herself to
be a music-teacher, though it was not her parents' present intention,
but because one never was certain of the future. He perfectly understood
my wishes, and was also pleased to notice his new pupil's partiality for
classical music. Strange to say--and I did not fail to convey the
important fact to her father--Mary, who was so easily frightened, felt
perfectly at ease with M. Delaborde, and besides her sentiment of
unbounded admiration for his talent, she soon came to have a great
liking for himself. Her father was very glad--for her sake
especially--that she should have the satisfaction of seeing her efforts
taken _au sérieux_, and appreciated by such an authority as M.
Delaborde. He often said that one of the greatest satisfactions in life
was to be able to do something _really well_, better than most people
could do it, and he was happy in the thought that music would give that
satisfaction to his daughter. About music he had written to Mr.

"I was always in music what so many are in painting--simply practical.
In my youth I was a pupil of Seymour of Manchester for the violin, and
thought to be a promising amateur, but I have played far more music than
I ever talked about. I don't at all know how to talk or write about
music. It seems to me that it expresses _itself_, and that nothing else
can express it."

After an absence of five weeks Gilbert was very glad to see us back, and
to hear that M. Delaborde had been very encouraging to Mary. At the end
of the last lesson he had said: "À l'année prochaine; je suis certain
que vous reviendrez: vous avez le feu sacré."

Several projects of books had occurred to Mr. Hamerton, which he
submitted to his publishers for advice. He had thought of "Rouen," but
Mr. Craik had answered: "Your name is a popular one, and anything coming
from you is pretty sure of a sale. But we should consider whether even
your name will persuade the public to buy this book on Rouen." It was
abandoned for the consideration of a work on the "Western Islands," to
which Messrs. Macmillan were favorable.

Mr. Seeley was suggesting the "Sea" as a subject that he might treat
with authority from an artistic point of view, but he feared he had not
had sufficient opportunity of studying it, and received this answer:
"Your letter of this morning has suggested to me another scheme--a
series of articles on 'Imagination in Landscape Painting.'" The idea
pleased my husband very much, and as he reflected about it he began a
sort of skeleton scheme for its treatment.

His own imagination about landscape was truly marvellous. Since he had
been deprived of the power to travel, he was continually dreaming that
he had undertaken long and distant voyages, in which he discovered
wondrously beautiful countries and magnificent architecture. He often
gave me, on awaking, vivid descriptions of these imaginary scenes, which
he remembered in every detail of composition, effect, and color, and
which he longed, though hopelessly, to reproduce in painting.

He was now writing in French a life of Turner for the series of "Les
Artistes Célèbres," published by the "Librairie de l'Art." It was not a
translation from his English "Life of Turner," but a new, original, and
much shorter work, about which he wrote to Mr. Seeley:--

"I am writing a book in French--a new life of Turner, not very long. I
find the change of language most refreshing. Composition in French is a
little slower for me, but not much, and as I am a great appreciator of
good French prose, it is fun to try to imitate (at a distance) some of
its qualities."

Years after, writing about this same "Life of Turner," he said to Mr.

"The insularity of the English that you speak of is not worse than the
insularity of the French. When I wrote my 'Life of Turner' for the
'Artistes Célèbres' series, I was asked to reduce the MS. by one third,
for the reason that the thicker numbers were only given to great
artists. The sale was very moderate, as so few French people care
anything about English art."

When the first chapters of "Imagination in Landscape Painting" reached
Mr. Seeley, he said: "I like your opening chapters much, and I feel glad
that I have set you on a good subject."

As usual during the vacation, my husband went on the Saône with Stephen
and Maurice for a fortnight. "L'Arar" had been greatly improved, but was
still to undergo new improvements while laid up for the winter. On
coming back home Gilbert wrote to Mr. Seeley:--

"Stephen, my nephew Maurice, and myself have just returned from an
exhibition on the Saône in my boat, which turned out delightful. We had
considerable variety of wind and weather, including a very grand
thunderstorm with tremendous wind (of short duration). We were just near
enough to a port where there was an inn to be able to take refuge in
time. The boat would have ridden out the storm on the water, scudding
under bare poles of course; but I have seen so many telegraph-poles and
trees struck by lightning, that I apprehended the possibility of its
striking one of our masts. At the inn we had dinner, and during the
whole of dinner, between five and six p.m., we had a splendid view of
Mont Blanc through our open window--first with all its snows rosy, and
afterwards fading into gray. As there were no beds in the inn we went on
by night, first in total darkness and afterwards in moonlight, beating
against the wind, but the wind falling altogether and rain coming in its
place, and the nearest inn being twelve kilomètres away, we slept on the
boat under a tent, and were comfortable enough though it rained all
night. Next morning we were under sail at seven, and had a delightful
day. A curious thing about that night was a swarm of ephemerae so dense
that it was like a blinding snowstorm. I could hardly see to steer for
them; they hit my face like pelting rain. They fell on the deck, till it
was covered an inch deep, and two inches deep in parts. Next morning
Stephen, on cleaning the deck, rolled them up into large balls, which he
threw into the river. The people call them _manna_.

"We exercised ourselves in all ways, going out for manoeuvers against
the wind when it was worst, rowing in dead calms, or towing the boat
from the shore, as there is a towing-path all along one side, so we need
never be quite stopped. The boat behaved capitally, and as the lads
became better drilled they did the sailing business better together. My
health kept wonderfully well in spite of (or perhaps in consequence of)
a good deal of work and some hardship. I did a lot of sketches, and
amused myself particularly with drawing the delicate distances.
Yesterday, on our return, we met by appointment a picnic party at
Nôrlay, and walked ten kilomètres under drenching rain to see a natural
curiosity called the 'end of the world,' where limestone cliffs end in a
sort of semi-circle.

"It is believed to be a creek of an ancient lake